Praxis was the development finance consultant for this project. Since 2006, Praxis has worked with Vintage Housing on 11 projects in both Nevada and Washington State.
A new low-income apartment project is scheduled to break ground in downtown Reno, adding a couple hundred affordable housing units for seniors at a time when many residents are struggling with the high cost of housing.
The Vintage at Washington Station will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 18 at its Winter Street location just off Washington and Third streets. Rents will be in the mid-$900 range for studios and a little over $1,000 for one-bedroom apartments, including all utilities.
Once finished, the project by Reno-based Greenstreet Development will add 206 low-income housing units at a prime location.
“It’s downtown so it’s a good location,” said Dane Hillyard, co-founder and principal at Greenstreet. “It’s close to the hospital and seniors can also walk to a lot of places — things like parks and other amenities.”
The project will have many of the same features as another recently completed Greenstreet project, The Vintage at Sanctuary. The Sanctuary uses a modern design, with amenities such as a clubhouse with a kitchen, a fitness center and game room. Each unit also has a washer-dryer built in.
Like the Sanctuary, The Vintage at Washington Station will provide housing for seniors who make 60% or less of the area median income or AMI. The income limit is a key threshold set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for projects in order to qualify for rental assistance such as Section 8 housing choice vouchers. The 60% AMI threshold equates to $35,100 or lower for one person and $83,800 for a family of four in Reno.
About 5% of the units also will be set aside for seniors who make 45% or less of the area median income, which is considered very low income. The requirement was set by the city of Reno as one of the conditions for selling the land to Greenstreet, according to Hillyard.
The 45% AMI units are so deeply discounted that the rent is about the same as the overhead and “almost negative” from a revenue standpoint, Hillyard said. Greenstreet was able to make the project work, however, by working with the city, he added.
“They gave us a really good price on the land to make the deal pencil,” Hillyard said. “I remember that they got some grief for selling it to us below market value so big kudos to the city of Reno for having the foresight to do this.”
Low-income housing continues to be in high demand in Reno-Sparks, which has been gripped by a housing affordability crisis in recent years. The average rent in the area reached a record $1,680 for the second quarter of this year, according to real estate appraisal and consulting firm Johnson Perkins Griffin.
Housing affordability has especially been a controversial issue in downtown Reno, which has seen ongoing debate between the need for development and revitalization through projects such as the Neon Line District and the loss of old motels that served as de facto cheap housing for low-income residents.
The Reno Housing Authority has also been trying to acquire properties downtownto turn into affordable housing, although it has since dropped its bid for the former Sundowner hotel-casino.
Hillyard, whose company developed several affordable housing apartments and continues to operate them, says demand continues to outpace the number of available units.
“The Sanctuary is 100% full and we immediately had a waiting list,” Hillyard said.
Greenstreet decided to focus on seniors for The Vintage at Washington Station because older tenants especially have it tough in the current apartment market, according to Hillyard. Greenstreet’s tenants include many veterans as well as older women.
“Seniors struggle the most,” Hillyard said.
“They may not be able to work anymore or are barely working and on a tight income with Social Security and benefits so they’re really hardest hit. A lot of seniors are also typically by themselves so it’s just a big deal.”
The site for The Vintage at Washington Station has been cleared as of last Friday. Hillyard expects the project to be a two-year build.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.