Depot Square housing project breaks ground
By Connor Shea
After years of planning and administration, the City of Driggs hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on May 6th for the Depot Square Low Income Housing Tax Credit project.
The building, located on Front St. between the courthouse and See N’ Save Thrift Store, will open up 34 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment units.
Due to its nature as a LIHTC project, the units will only be open to those making between 30-60% of area median income (60% AMI equals $42,930 for a 3-person household). 30 of the units will be deed-restricted. Rent rates will be adjusted based on each tenant’s income.
There will also be three live/work units (each deed-restricted affordable), with two retail spaces occupying the bottom of 3 floors. One of these spaces is 1,668 sq/ft and the other is 1,136 sq/ft.
The project is a collaboration of wide-ranging entities and non-profit organizations: the City of Driggs, Teton County Joint Housing Authority, and Driggs Urban Renewal Agency were joined by developer Northwest Real Estate Capital Corporation, banks PNC Bank and Wells Fargo, lender Bonneville Multifamily Capital, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, architect CSHQA, and contractor CSDI Construction.
Construction in earnest is on track to start the week of May 16th, pending this year’s snowy spring weather.
Mayor August Christensen was ecstatic while speaking to the audience filled with representatives and interested individuals.
“Thank you all for coming from far and near for this momentous occasion. Our community is grateful beyond belief for this project to add affordable housing options for our local workforce. Two years ago, in May 2020, I was on City Council when the proposal was brought before us to donate this land. Because we voted yes that night we are all here today,” said Christensen.
“A big thanks to all who have come together to make this happen. From the application being written to designing the structure plans, financing, and more, thank you. I cannot wait for construction to begin,” said Christensen.
The building is expected to be completed in July 2023, with an application period opening March 2023.
Shawn Hill, chair of the Teton County Joint Housing Authority thanked all involved and spoke about the collaborative process that enabled the completion of the Depot Square project.
“I’ve been working in communities like this for about 20 years in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The only time I have seen transformative success in communities like this is when we collaborate and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. I think that’s what everyone involved, that’s what we all did. That’s why we’re here today,” said Hill.
“This is a banner day for affordable housing in Teton Valley,” said Hill.
Hill was especially thankful for Driggs Community Development Director Doug Self.
“I just want to thank everyone for being a part of this collaboration and being a part of this transformative success, especially you Doug, I know I push hard sometimes, and luckily you have the temperament to handle that,” said Hill.
Erica Rice, chair of the Driggs Urban Renewal Agency, echoed the excitement shared by numerous other partners.
“I’ve been on DURA since 2015, and it has always been a subject that came up. How can we contribute to the affordable housing solution? What can we do to help, how can we get people together? When this project came up we were thrilled to be able to have the financial resources to contribute and also support the rest of the people involved. I think this is going to be a great asset for the city of Driggs and I am excited to see it get off the ground,” said Rice.
Last but not least, Jess Giuffré, Vice President of Development at Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp, was thankful for the support and trust the entities have for NRECC to complete the project.
“Thank you for trusting us with this project. We intend for this to be a showpiece for the City of Driggs. I always get excited about projects that are on infill sites and really built from the city outward. It’s a real opportunity for all of us and the collaboration piece has been mentioned several times. We’ve never done a design like this with so much retail and live/work. All the partner’s influence on the live/work units and the proof of concept space says a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit you’re trying to foster here and help small businesses get going. I think that’s really admirable, we’re excited to be a part of it, and I hope it’s a repeatable model we can do in this community and in other communities,” said Giuffré.
More information on the project can be found on the City of Driggs website, including information on how to be placed on the list of interested households.