Lower-income housing projects under way in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Lower-income housing projects under way in Mesa

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 3:26 pm | Updated: 8:03 pm, Sat Dec 8, 2012.

Mesa will have three new low- to moderate-income housing developments in the next few months, thanks to the city, private developers and federal tax credits administered by the state.

Ceremonies were held this week for two of the projects – Escobedo at Verde Vista and La Mesita Apartments – though work began weeks ago in order to meet tax credit deadlines.

A ceremony marking the start of the third project – Encore on First Avenue – was held at the end of October.

The city is involved in the three projects in different ways, said Tammy Albright, Mesa’s housing and community development director. The city owns the property for Escobedo at Verde Vista, 125 E. University Drive, and Encore on First Avenue, 25 W. First Avenue.

“With Escobedo, not only are we the property owner, but we are also providing roughly half a million dollars in federal grant money,” Albright said. The city has received federal housing grants as an entitlement community, she said.

For the third project, La Mesita, the city is providing 30 “project-based vouchers,” which provide guaranteed rental payments for 15 years, she said. The amount of each voucher depends on the tenant’s income. The city also gave A New Leaf, one of the project developers, a 20-year, interest-free loan to start the project.

The three private developers building the new housing had to apply to the state for the low-income housing tax credits, Albright said.

“Mesa was just fortunate enough to have three of them awarded this year,” Albright said.

According to the Arizona Department of Housing website, Mesa had one development awarded the tax credits in 2011. The previous Mesa development with the federal tax credit was in 2002. Congress created the program in 1986.

Ecobedo at Verde Vista will include 70 units for low-to moderate-income tenants. They will be built using energy-saving plans and be accessible to the physically disabled, according to a release. The City of Mesa, Gorman & Company, Affordable Rental Movement (A.R.M. of Save the Family Foundation) and the West Mesa Community Development Corporation have partnered on the development.

“We are happy to see quality private investments like Escobedo at Verde Vista coming to the City," Mayor Scott Smith said in a release. "It demonstrates people have decided that Downtown Mesa is a great place to invest.”

Escobedo at Verde Vista will include office space for Save the Family, a nonprofit organization created in the late ‘80s to help homeless families.

A New Leaf, a Mesa-based nonprofit organization, is partnering with Native American Connections to build the La Mesita Apartments. There will be 80 affordable housing units, space for A New Leaf to provide services to tenants, and on-site child care.

According to a release, about 30 units will be “permanent, supportive housing units for chronically homeless individuals and residents who need more intensive and longer-term supportive services.”

Mesa councilman Dennis Kavanaugh praised the project in a release.

“The La Mesita Apartments will be a high-quality project in west Mesa that will offer affordable housing in close proximity to light rail and other public transit as well as neighborhood services,” he said. “The city is excited about the project because it has the potential to act as a catalyst for more redevelopment in the area.”

Encore on First Avenue is being developed by Mesa Housing Associates as independent senior housing. It will be a five-story building, with 81 units in downtown Mesa.

Not every project that receives low-income tax credits partners with the city, Albright said. But all benefit the city.

“Even if we’re not involved in it, it’s great for our community. It’s revitalizing our communities, especially the older communities,” she said.

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