Midtown concerns heard - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Midtown concerns heard

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Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 10:04 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - Several midtown neighbors aired their concerns Wednesday about a mixed-use workforce housing and retail development project planned in the heart of their neighborhood.

Unhappy with the recent change in plans from for-sale condos to scaled-income rentals, around 60 midtown residents and business owners said they'd like to see the project scaled back, reverted to the original plan or shelved altogether.

In response, The Housing Company, the nonprofit proposing the project, said it would see if it can re-address the plan involving neighbor input, but it would have to crunch financial numbers and check with the organization's leadership too before anything could be set in stone.

"I can go back and talk to my board," said Douglas Peterson, THC director. "I'll keep coming back and try and make something work."

Whether a solution can be found should be determined over more meetings the sides agreed to set in the future. Peterson said, however, he couldn't promise that the project would be shelved completely because neighbors didn't agree with it.

"It's really not as simple as saying yes or no," he said.

The project at Fourth Street and Roosevelt Avenue has been talked about since 2007. Originally, it was pitched as condos for sale atop a ground floor of retail space. But the market decline killed the condo prospect, and in November THC switched to 45 units of rentals available for qualified people who earn 60 percent of the median income, called workforce housing that THC says the market demands.

Neighbors, though, said they felt the switch was made suddenly and without consulting them, which hadn't been the case in years prior. Neighbors had been very involved in planning as it was still a condo project, they said, and had supported it then.

But the change isn't in line with their original wishes, and the four-story footprint doesn't fit the neighborhood's makeup.

"If you won't stop the project," said Eric Soles, midtown resident speaking for around 20 stakeholders about the disappointment of being left out of the rental project planning, "How can I believe you're going to be good project managers ... I have no faith in that."

Others said because the project could net around $5 million in tax credits and more than $500,000 from Lake City Development Corp., the city's urban renewal agency, it would unfairly put government finances competing against open market rental companies.

"It basically comes down to enough is enough," said Pat Acuff, who works in real estate. "I don't know how you justify it."

Steve Widmyer, who moderated the meeting at the American Legion building on Fourth Street across from the proposed site, pointed to the cost per rental unit hitting $181,000 as being too expensive, more expensive than $169,000 workforce homes available, and not an economically viable project.

Coupled with reports from a city Housing Affordability Study that showed rental units available at the price range the project is proposing, he said the project doesn't make sense.

"I don't know if the project passes the need test, in my mind," he said.

Whether THC, which is awaiting approval on its tax credit application, can shift the plan and still feel it makes economic sense will be determined down the line. The tax credit application couldn't go toward condos for sale.

"Personally, I don't want to do anything controversial," said Brad Jordan, LCDC member.

Building a facility that would enhance the community feel of midtown was always LCDC's intent, not something "shoved down the throat" of neighbors, he said.

THC has put around $800,000 into land for the project.

It's the only viable partner in years to pitch something that could work but "obviously, we have some problems here," Jordan said.

Seeing the neighborhood's unrest, Councilman Woody McEvers said the project should pull out.

"I'm not feeling any love here," he said.

Asked if he was happy with THC's response about seeing if the plan can be altered, midtown resident Lynn Schwindell said: "So far."

"Please understand why we're passionate," Soles added. "We live here and are raising families here."

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  • RadRev2D posted at 7:23 am on Fri, Mar 16, 2012.

    RadRev2D Posts: 372

    Imposition of Smart Growth funded by unwilling taxpayers benefiting a privileged elect that are closely aligned with LCDC under the auspices of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.


    "At the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on June 5 (World Environment Day), 2005, every mayor in attendance signed two documents – the “Green Cities Declaration” and the “Urban Environmental Accords”.

    The first is the declaration that the mayors of all the cities of the United States and the world are going to be the implementers of Agenda 21 (The UN’s Agenda for the 21st Century). The second explains how it will be implemented, closing with the statement “The goal is for cities to pick three actions to adopt each year.” Did Mayor Bloem attend?

    If the cities achieve the goal of implementing three actions each year from 2005, they will have completed their 21 Actions in the seven years leading up to June 5, 2012, the date of World Environment Day."

    Ketchum, Idaho and Coeur d'Alene by MSA shirt-tail association with Spokane are both members of the ICLEI and implementing Agenda 21. The recent proposal to provide green bicycles for public use at no cost is already implemented in Denver.

    As for The Housing Company, it would seem that this project is outside the scope of their 501 c 3 charter with the Idaho Secretary of State. How can the municipal workforce pulling down an entry level
    income in excess of $30,000 be deemed needy and eligible for residence at this project?

  • ancientemplar posted at 2:04 pm on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1150

    Obviously the nitwits at THC and the LCDC have designed themselves a castle and now they're in a pickle. I can't understand there reasoning. With the costs at $181,000/unit ( I'd sure like to see the breakout between hard and soft costs) the don't think they can sell them to the "workforce" and yet how do they think the "workforce" could afford to rent them. The citizens of Idaho, Kootenai county or Cd'a will be underwriting the subsidized rent for a long time. They should either go back to the drawing board and wash away these sand castles and design something more simplistic or drop the entire project. The $800,000 in the land was way too much to start with so the THC and LCDC should just sell it and stop the bleeding at the level rather than throwing good money after bad.

  • IDAHO DREAM posted at 11:36 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    IDAHO DREAM Posts: 18

    You nailed it Randy. The LCDC is led by goons that dont listen to anyone but themselves. They should all be ashamed to show their faces in this town.

  • Mary Souza posted at 11:03 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    Mary Souza Posts: 788

    This is totally about government nosing in where it is not needed. The neighborhood organized this meeting, not the city, LCDC or The Housing Co. (THC), who stopped communicating with the neighbors when THC changed from owner-occupied condos, which the neighbors supported, to qualified rental apartments, which the neighborhood does not want.

    Woody can say all he wants about "not feeling the love", because, from what I was told by the experts at that meeting last night--I was there too--this thing is a done deal. The LCDC invited THC into Midtown back in 2006...it asked them to do a project there. The city gave a special zoning overlay which allows buildings up to 45' high (about 4 stories) in Midtown now, when all the other buildings are one or two stories only.

    The worst part of this? It's a lot of taxpayer money going to subsidize a business that will compete directly with several local businesses in Midtown.

  • Matty posted at 9:09 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    Matty Posts: 9

    Better watch out not to anger those in control or they will place three transitional/halfway houses and a homeless shelter in your neighborhood, the value of your homes/businesses will plummet, and you will not be able to walk safely alone in your own neighborhood, They'll show YOU, just ask the residents of east Sherman. Just go along with the plan folks.

  • JonnyQPubic posted at 8:55 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    JonnyQPubic Posts: 325

    Oh yes, we gots to stomp out them darned liberals.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 6:37 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Agree with concerned, WHY is LCDC in this, WHY is the city having anything to do with this at all?

    This is about more hobos for the liberals to "help out" which means that the "helpful liberals" get to collect plenty of dollars on their "project" from Joe Taxpayer, you & me.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:14 am on Thu, Mar 15, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Once again your city going into business that should be private sector.

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