Displaying items by tag: affordable housing

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The city is reviewing a plan that would construct two 96-unit “work force” apartment buildings near Saratoga Casino Hotel.

Liberty Affordable Housing Inc. – a not-for-profit developer headquartered in Rome, N.Y., is seeking amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance that would develop the buildings on a 30.27-acre parcel, which are currently vacant and in an area near the Saratoga Casino soccer fields.

The land is owned by B.M.H.D. Inc. of Ballston Spa, and Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. with frontage along Jefferson Street and along Crescent Avenue.

The two apartment buildings will be accessible via Bunny Lake Drive, a private road. The two four-story buildings each will house 96 apartments and consist of two and three-bedroom units containing mixed income households targeting 50, 60 and 90 percent AMI.

AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is about $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Based on this structure, the rent would equate to annual earnings of approximately $42,000, $50,400, and $75,600, respectively, for a family of four.  

Plans call for the project to take place in two phases built in two phases. one for each building - and each phase also calls for the development of 147 parking spaces, of which 6 will be handicap accessible.

Earlier this month, Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs at Saratoga Casino, submitted a letter to the city explaining that approximately 550 of the Saratoga Casino Hotel’s 630 employees would qualify to live in the planned workforce housing project.

“The majority of these employees can’t afford to live in Saratoga Springs as 74.1 percent live outside the 12866 zip code,” Carlson wrote. Saratoga Casino Hotel employs 630 workers. Of those approximately half earn less than $30,250 annually, one-fourth earn between $30,250- $36,300, and one-fourth earn $36,300 - $54,450 annually, according to documents submitted to the city.

Liberty Affordable Housing Inc. will also seek negotiating a PILOT agreement up to a maximum term of 40 years. The hope is to secure all municipal approvals by Oct. 15.

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City Council members fiddled with their respective pens, rested chins on palms of hands and listened intently to the 12 speakers who came forward Tuesday night at City Hall, where a public hearing was held regarding the much-debated SPA Housing Zoning Ordinance.

The goal of the plan – initially proposed in 2006 - is to produce “affordable” homebuyer and rental housing units for working households across the city. That last part – across the city – appears to be a major sticking point for some.

Tuesday night, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus addressed the council and recommended they seek “site-specific” affordable housing projects to be placed in designated locations, rather than the across-the-city policy the Inclusionary Zoning, or IZ proposal offers.

Sustainable Saratoga Chairman Harry Moran, who resurrected the plan when bringing it to the council last year, pointed to the council’s study of the plan as “a watershed moment” in the city’s history, and local Rev. Joseph Cleveland – who also spoke in favor of the IZ – told the council that a citywide diversity would help make Saratoga Springs a more sustainable city and that “we should not put gates up between communities.”    

A vote scheduled for Tuesday to amend the existing Zoning Ordinance to add Inclusionary Zoning – as well as a vote regarding the SEQRA Determination for the SPA Housing (IZ) ordinance - was tabled until Monday, June 19, the date of the next City Council meeting. The vote requires majority approval of the five council members to be adopted and it is not clear, at this point, which way that vote will go. 

Upcoming Meetings

7 p.m. Monday, June 12: Zoning Board of Appeals Meeting at City Hall.

3 - 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 13: Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Technical Review Advisory Committee (TRAC) Meeting at Saratoga Music Hall. 

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Thursday, 13 April 2017 18:37

Saratoga’s Quest for Affordable Housing

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Several plans are currently being considered to address the city’s push to help local workers retain city residences. Workforce housing specifically is a gap Mayor Joanne Yepsen has identified as a primary need to be filled.

Site plans are anticipated to be in place by early-to-mid May for the development of more than 100 workforce housing units on a near five-acre parcel of land on South Broadway, according to a report by the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force, which held its monthly meeting at City Hall this week.

The proposal calls for the development of 120 one and two-bedroom units with a rent structure of 60 to 100 percent AMI - a $50,400 to $84,000 range - while 14 units would be offered at a “fair-market rent” to military veterans. AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is about $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Saratoga Diner, which closed in 2012 and occupies the land, will be razed. The owner of the property – who plans to lease the land – has indicated that the horse atop the diner will be salvaged and likely remain with his family.  

An Orlando, Florida based developer involved in the project has created local partnerships to help facilitate the project. “I think it’s going to be a stunning design,” Mayor Yepsen said.  The South Broadway scheme will include a retail business component.

 

Housing Units Slated for Stonequist, Jefferson Terrace

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is expected to be issued shortly regarding two other projects that could site 110 additional “affordable” units. Eighty of those units are expected to be developed adjacent to the Stonequist apartments, projected at 40 to 100 percent of AMI, with another 30 units at the former site of the William H. Ford Community Center, at Jefferson Terrace. Both are under the ownership of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority. The latter site will feature eight housing units reserved for military veterans, eight units for victims of domestic violence, and are based on 30 percent of income, in which vouchers may be used.

 

West Side Plan Calls for 10 New Buildings

Two potential west side projects seek to collectively site 10 new buildings, a five-story hotel, more than 400 residential units and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail space adjacent to the Saratoga Springs train station. Residences would include 114 units dedicated for senior housing, 66 units for senior assisted care, and 160 apartment units which seemingly would fall under the “workforce” or “affordable” housing category. Seventy-two residential for-sale condominiums, a retail business component, and a new five-story hotel and spa would also be part of the project.  

 

City-Wide Affordable Housing Ordinance Vote Slated for May

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen remains hopeful the City Council will vote in May on an Inclusionary Zoning ordinance that would have all new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city include as much as 20 percent of those units deemed affordable to people with lower to moderate incomes.

The city Affordable Housing Task Force has advocated for the SPA Housing Zoning plan, and would integrate persons of all income levels across the city ,said Task Force Chairwoman Cheryl Hage-Perez.The proposal has met disapproval, however, from some local groups who indicate they would rather see “site-specific” programs – such as the South Broadway plan. Such a plan sites those seeking affordable housing in one place. Some builders have also expressed concern that while the ordinance would allow them a 20 percent density bonus in construction to make the project financially viable, city zoning restrictions would hamper any such extended development, and are requesting zoning regulations also be increased by 20 percent to aid structural development.  A City Hall workshop will be scheduled regarding the ordinance, although a date has yet to be set.  

 

Code Blue Permanent Shelter Moves Closer to Nov. 1 Opening

Plans for a permanent Code Blue emergency homeless shelter, which would operate during cold-extreme weather months, cleared its first hurdle at the city Land Use boards this week when the Zoning Board of Appeals approved that the project move forward.

Plans call for the 6,400 square-foot site to be built as an addition to existing Shelters of Saratoga properties on Walworth Street. Officials said this week they are targeting a Nov. 1 opening for the 61-bed facility. Should that timeline not be met, the possibility exists Code Blue may continue to operate at the Soul Saving Station on Henry Street where it is currently located. Last February, local business owner Ed Mitzen and his wife Lisa announced they will pay for the costs for the new shelter to be built. The plan was slated to go in front of the city Planning Board on Thursday, April 13.

 

Upcoming Meetings

The City Council will hold a pre-agenda meeting 9:30 a.m. Monday April 17, and a full council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at City Hall.  

The Design Review Commission will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19 at City Hall. 

Task Force Chairwoman Cheryl Hage-Perez
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City Explains Immigration Enforcement Policy

After receiving numerous inquiries from local residents about how the city would handle issues related to illegal immigration and the level of its cooperation with federal officials, Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen asked Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch to formally address the issue.

“Given the number of people who come to our city, especially in the summertime, and some of whom may have immigration statuses that are questionable, I thought I would talk to our police chief,” Mathiesen explained to the City Council this week. “We do want these people to feel as if they have the public safety department, the police department, fire/EMS department as a resource, and should not feel as if they may have immigration complications should they require those services.”

The responding two-page statement from Chief Veitch, which Mathiesen called “a reasonable and caring approach” and was read to the council Tuesday night, assures that the police department serves the entire community and recognizes the dignity of all persons, regardless of their immigration status.  However, it does not mean that members of the police department will refuse to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or I.C.E. 

Veitch said with regards to the reporting of a crime or cooperation with an investigation, the department does not require or encourage its officers to investigate the immigration status of victims or witnesses of crimes, and that Immigration enforcement is not a priority of the Saratoga Springs Police Department. “However, should a federal law enforcement agency request assistance from the Saratoga Springs Police, we will provide assistance consistent with our policies and procedures, as we would for any other law enforcement organization needing assistance within city limits. “

Criminal offenders in custody, those who may be wanted by another law agency, or individuals verified to have a valid warrant from any federal agency, including I.C.E. will be detained by local officers in accordance with the law.  “We will not, however, detain any individual solely for a civil violation of federal immigration laws. Nor will S.S.P.D. detain any individual that would otherwise be eligible for release, simply for the purpose of notifying federal authorities or to check immigration status.”  

               

Council Revisits Affordable Housing Issues, Potential Solutions

A proposal for “inclusionary zoning,” first floated a decade ago but never brought to a vote by the City Council, on Tuesday night received the first of what is anticipated to be two public hearings.

The SPA Housing Zoning ordinance would require new housing developments and apartment complexes across the city to include some units deemed affordable to residents with moderate incomes.

“This is a work-in-progress,” city Mayor Joanne Yepsen said during Tuesday’s 60-minute hearing, “but it’s essential that we find a way to create more variety of price-points for housing.” The purpose of the hearing is to get public feedback regarding the proposal, which has not been finalized, Yepsen added.

There are various resident income target-points the city may choose to pursue – from “low” to “moderate” to “middle” income households; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sets the area median income for a family of four in Saratoga County at $82,000. As such, affordable units put up for sale that are made available to “moderate” and “middle” income households indicate thresholds respectively set at less than 80 percent, and at 100 percent, of that $82,000 median income.

The affordable-housing ordinance proposal applies to both rental and owner-occupied housing. Year-round city residents would have first opportunity to apply for the affordable units.

The ordinance would apply to new projects consisting of 10 or more residential units as well as to existing structures undergoing substantial renovation or conversion from nonresidential to residential use.

The ordinance stipulates that 10 to 20 percent of all new or newly converted units be set aside to meet the “affordable” criteria.  To compensate developers, the program would allow them to increase the density of housing projects by up to 20 percent

More than 400 municipalities across the country have adopted inclusionary zoning programs, Commissioner Mathiesen said, adding that any ordinance eventually adopted would only be one part of an overall strategy to meet housing needs. The City Council will continue its discussion of the topic at its next meeting, on April 4. 

 

Saratoga Springs Senior Advisory Committee Sets Goals for 2017

City Mayor Joanne Yepsen announced a new mission statement and work plan regarding the Saratoga Springs Senior Advisory Committee. Among the 2017 goals of the group is to: raise awareness regarding services available to senior citizens; address and advocate for senior concerns and support services, and to serve as a liaison between seniors, the mayor, and members of the City Council. The committee is comprised of eight individual members and representatives of up to seven area organizations.

In 2017, the Committee will advocate for special mobility needs of seniors, including a drive-up mailbox in the downtown area and additional handicap parking. Members of the Senior Advisory Committee are appointed by the mayor.

 

Public Safety Commissioner Mathiesen will not seek a Fourth Term

City elections will be held in November when all five council seats and two supervisor positions will be up for vote. Last week, Peter Martin – one of two Saratoga Springs Supervisors representing the city at the county level -  announced that he will seek to run as a Democrat for Commissioner of Public Safety. Current DPS Commissioner Chris Mathiesen will not seek a fourth term. Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee chairman Charles Brown said party members will vote on endorsements in May and that he was not currently aware of any other potential candidate seeking the Public Safety Commissioner seat on the Democratic line.

 

Urban Renewal

County Supervisor Matthew Veitch will present a program, titled “Origins of Preservation Urban Renewal in Saratoga Springs: 1962-1986,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28 at Universal Preservation Hall, 25 Washington St.

The presentation about the often-controversial Urban Renewal Program will feature rare images from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Tickets are $8 general admission, $5 Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation members and can be purchased by calling 518-587-5030.

 

City Gifted “Grande Olde Saratoga” Painting

Grand Olde Saratoga,” an oil painting depicting a delivery by a horse-pulled Saratoga Vichy water company cart to the prestigious Grand Union Hotel, was gifted to the city by Sharon Miller. The 24-by-30-inch painting is valued at approximately $400 and was hung in the mayor’s office this week, following the acceptance of the gift by the City Council.     

 

Upcoming Meetings

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, March 27 at City Hall. Taking place among other items will be a consideration for coordinated SEQRA Review regarding the proposed Station Park mixed-use development on the city’s west side, adjacent to the railroad station. 

The Charter Review Committee will hold a public forum 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. The Commission is recommending that a City Manager-Council form of government replace the current Commission form of governing. The referendum will be up for vote in November.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Mayor Joanne Yepsen looked up at the 50 or so people who crowded into City Hall Wednesday afternoon and spoke to the reason for the gathering. “We don’t want to become a community that only the elite can afford,” the mayor said.

The City Council’s special mid-day meeting on Dec. 14 effectively kicked-off an 18-month project to address affordable housing in Saratoga Springs.

“Residents are saying, ‘We are pricing ourselves out of our own city,’ meaning that the market rates are higher than what they can afford. I think it’s time for us as a council to address some of the short-term needs as best we can with some long-term solutions,” Yepsen said. “And affordable housing may not just be an option any more – it may be required by the federal government.”

The 1968 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), was amended in 2015 with a final rule that states communities must address affordable housing needs and come up with a consolidation plan to carry out actions. That plan is specifically due from Saratoga Springs in May 2020, with submissions due at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by October 2019. “We are planning this will take us about a year and a half to put together, so we’re starting at the right time,” Yepsen said.

Survey Says: Additional Housing Needed

A 228-page market study regarding housing needs in Saratoga Springs conducted during the summer by GAR Associates indicates a strong demand for additional housing in the city, and recommends multiple rent tiers targeting different income bands in the development of workforce, family, and senior housing. The study points to Saratoga Springs’ disparity in income levels as a supporting case to be made for affordable housing projects that specifically feature workforce-oriented and mixed-income housing, where attorneys would live in the same building as busboys, explained Saratoga Springs Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Feldman.

“Affordable housing to me is not only by the HUD standards (residents should not spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing), but for Saratoga Springs it’s taking care of our hospitality industry and making sure that the workers can get to work and live close to jobs,” Yepsen said. “So, it’s workforce housing for our hospitality industry and it’s allowing young professionals to move and work here.”

The study reported the average listing price of a new single-family home in Saratoga Springs is $504,000, the average annual earning salary is about $70,000, and that of the more than 600 housing units built in the city during the past decade -in addition to another 200 or so on the table in the future - none include an affordable housing component. “What the market study shows is that 80 percent of the people who need more affordable housing are Saratogians,” Yepsen said. “They currently live here and are having trouble paying their bills. Eighty percent of the people are our own people - and that’s why I’m taking this to heart. We need to do this. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a plan.”

There are several options to be explored, from working with private developers, to nonprofits. A decade-old Inclusionary Zoning ordinance revived by Sustainable Saratoga earlier this year calls for the dedication of a small percentage of all future units built be designated for moderate, or low-income households. In exchange, builders would receive a bonus that allows an increased density of the project. The IZ would also spread the dispersal of mixed-use affordable housing across the community.

“If the IZ ever passed the council, it would mean every developer, from here on in, would include a percentage of affordable housing,” Yepsen said. The proposal currently sits at the city and county planning boards for their respective advisory opinions, after which it will be required to pass through the city’s Land Use boards before being returned to the council for a potential vote. In a community with high-income characteristics such as Saratoga Springs, incentives often have to be provided in order to create the support for municipal approvals associated with affordable housing.

The Middle Class Gap

Yepsen said looking at the housing gap from a continuum of care spectrum, the path begins at the Code Blue emergency shelter, continues on to Shelters of Saratoga, and transitions to public housing and eventually private housing. But, that’s where the path ends. “That middle gap, to me, is what really is the crux of the problem, because you’re not eligible for help, yet you can’t afford the high-end condos either, so you end up stuck in the middle,” Yepsen said. “And Saratoga Springs is going to be feeling that more, unless we can at least introduce some other price points for housing in the city. It is for me, a priority and that is the reality of the situation. The question now is: What does the council want to do about it?”

The survey reports that land adjacent to The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority’s Stonequist Apartments would be ideal for a large mixed development. Currently, the city is looking at grant funding opportunities to develop 20 to 26 new affordable housing units at Jefferson and Vanderbilt Terrace. “We’re thrilled that we’re a thriving economic community and we don’t want that to change at all,” the mayor said. “Our package of assets and cultural opportunities are going to thrive and grow, but we’ve got to take care of our own too. We need to be both - an economically thriving tourist community and a residential year-round affordable community, with a high quality of life.”

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