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Planners encourage affordable housing project

Gregory Crofton, Nevada Appeal News Service

A 32-unit affordable-housing project to be built in Stateline gained momentum Wednesday after planners unanimously approved a zoning change that reduces the cost of the project.

The change classifies land along Kahle Drive as a preferred affordable-housing area, which allows the developer to access special building rights, or bonus units, kept in a pool to encourage construction of affordable housing.

“I believe without these bonus units, the project may not happen,” said Peter Eichar, staff member at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Falcon Capital, a development company based at Round Hill, aims to have the affordable apartments completed late this year or by early 2004. The complex will be called Meadowbrook.

Construction of the $5.1 million project will include seven, two-story buildings, 39 parking spaces and the creation of a wetland and a water treatment system. The apartments and water treatment area will cover about five acres.

The water treatment system is required because the land is considered to be in a stream environment zone, which was targeted as a needed project under the Environmental Improvement Program.

Before the TRPA Governing Board voted to change the zoning, Jerry Yeazell, a Zephyr Cove resident and member of the Tahoe Area Sierra Club, asked if TRPA could assure him the apartments would stay affordable and not become time-shares.

“Yes,” Eichar said, the area will be permanently marked for affordable housing.

The Meadowbrook project will require the demolition of the two remaining Lake Park Apartment buildings on Kahle Drive. Falcon demolished the other three apartment buildings in phases, starting about two years ago.

Falcon will demolish the two remaining buildings sometime after May 1, said Lew Feldman, an attorney representing Falcon.

To replace the housing lost at Lake Park, TRPA has required Falcon to replace the lower-income housing with 134 units of affordable housing in Douglas County or the city of South Lake Tahoe.

In February 2001, Falcon opened 64 apartments on Kingsbury Grade at Market Street. The $8 million apartment complex, called Lake Vista, is rented to lower-income families and has a long waiting list.

Feldman said people on the waiting list who qualify for affordable housing will get first dibs on the Meadowbrook Apartments, which will contain 18 three-bedroom units and 14 two-bedroom units.

The Meadowbrook apartments, combined with Lake Vista, still leaves Falcon 38 affordable-housing units short. Falcon, representing a group of landowners from Incline Village, is eyeing 18 acres near Burke Creek, land just west of Lake Village, as another possible site for affordable housing and market-rate condos.

In November, Falcon requested an environmental analysis to be done on the land. It could cost as much as $250,000 and take a year to complete, said Randy Lane, managing member of Falcon.

The Meadowbrook project is linked to 110-unit time-share condominiums at Round Hill. Falcon secured a TRPA permit for the time-share project before selling it to Trendwest, which constructed the condominiums.