Golden wants to make homeowners of residents who can only dream of having their own place


Ninety-five percent of Golden’s workers don’t live in the city.

That stunning statistic underlies a bracing reality in this quaint Jefferson County city, where the average single-family home is now flirting with the million-dollar mark. Who can afford to live here?

It’s a question city officials have been wrestling with for some time. On Tuesday night, Golden City Council took a small but hopeful step toward standing up the kind of home that a cop, a teacher or a firefighter can call their own. The council unanimously voted to apply to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for a $3 million grant to help finance a $65 million, 120-unit owner-occupied affordable housing project — the first of its kind in the city.

“It gives folks who work in our local businesses and teach in our local schools the chance to own a part of the community,” said Janet Maccubbin, affordable housing policy coordinator for Golden.

The project, which is slated for a 5-acre parcel on South Golden Road currently occupied by an Xcel Energy facility, will target those making on average 80% of area median income. That means families earning around $90,000 a year could qualify for a unit.

Golden has about 250 rental units in the affordable range but the city has never pursued a similar effort with for-sale housing.

“We want to give people a chance to step into homeownership,” Maccubbin said.

The average monthly rent in the city hit nearly $2,000 in 2021 — up 28% over the last five years.

There are a few firsts with Golden’s initiative. The city will team up with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver to build the project, which will consist of townhomes and a condo building. Kate Hilberg, director of real estate development for Habitat, said the organization will work with a condo developer — Shanahan Development — for the first time in Colorado.

Habitat for Humanity is slated to close on the property in February, with plans to raze the Xcel building in the summer.

“Habitat will handle all the site work and Shanahan will build the condo building,” Hilberg said.

The move comes as the state legislature this week announced affordable housing as one of its top priorities in 2023, including providing tax incentives for first-time homebuyers. Some lawmakers have talked about eviction protections and slowing the growth of rent, while policymakers carefully watch the launch of the affordable housing program voters passed with Proposition 123.

Prop 123 will redirect 0.1% of Colorado state income tax revenues — projected to be nearly $300 million from this year onward — for a range of affordable housing efforts.

Golden Community Development Director Rick Muriby said Habitat will place the land into a land trust with a 99-year lease. Homeowners will be able to sell their units and make a profit but capital gains will be capped as part of the program.

“We have a tremendous in-flow and out-flow of people every day,” Muriby said of the city’s workforce. “We want people to have the opportunity to own and stay in the community.”

Jeff Shanahan, who owns Shanahan Development, said this isn’t the company’s first stab at building condos at an affordable price point. Last fall, Shanahan wrapped up construction on the 92-unit La Tela condos at 603 Inca St. in Denver.

The company is currently building a condo complex with 49 affordable units in the River North Art District near downtown Denver. Shanahan said the company is managing to push ahead with for-sale affordable housing in the face of the ongoing challenging legal and insurance environment for condo construction in Colorado.


Source link