Nonprofit group aims to develop new Colorado Springs apartment project as workforce housing

A local nonprofit developer of affordable housing has proposed a 48-unit apartment building for lower-income workers in Colorado Springs, some of whom are expected to come from a nearby retail center.

AmericaWest Housing Solutions of Woodland Park plans to build the four-story Monument Creek Apartments on 5.4 acres along Mark Dabling Boulevard, south of Rockrimmon Boulevard.

“Affordable housing,” said Brian Fleer, AmericaWest’s president and CEO and a former Woodland Park economic development official. “There’s never enough affordable housing.”

Monument Creek Apartments would serve as workforce housing for service-sector employees, Fleer said. AmericaWest Housing chose the site because it’s close to University Village Colorado, where he said an estimated 2,500 people work at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Costco Wholesale Club and several other retailers, restaurants and businesses.

The project also would be reasonably close for workers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, although apartments wouldn’t be rented to students, he said.

A pedestrian bridge over Monument Creek would allow access from the apartment building site to University Village; meanwhile, a pedestrian/bicycle underpass that runs beneath Nevada Avenue allows access from UCCS to the shopping center.

Monument Creek Apartments would be AmericaWest’s second project; the nonprofit, formed as a 501(c)(3) in December 2014, expects to complete a 24-unit building in Woodland Park in the next 90 days, Fleer said. The group also has more projects on the drawing board, he added.

The $11.6 million Springs project would be funded through a combination of state and federal tax credits, which would pay for a little more than half of its cost, Fleer said.

AmericaWest, however, still must qualify for state tax credits for the project through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Fleer said. The group is scheduled to meet with authority officials April 12, he said.

Financial assistance also would come from the Colorado Division of Housing, city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County Housing Authority. The Colorado Springs Housing Authority also would have a small ownership stake, which Fleer said would exempt the project from local property taxes under state law.

Assuming the nonprofit lines up all of its financing, it expects to complete the purchase of the Monument Creek Apartments site in the fall, start construction in the fourth quarter and open the project in August or September of 2018, Fleer said.

The project, whose apartments would be split between one- and two-bedroom units, would be restricted to renters based on income, he said.

Five units would go to renters whose income is 30 percent of the El Paso County median, and 43 units would go to wage earners whose income is 60 percent of the area’s median, based on federal Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates.

Renters at the 30 percent income level would pay a maximum of $329 a month for one-bedroom units and up to $398 for two bedrooms, based on HUD rent guidelines, Fleer said. Renters whose income is 60 percent of the area’s median would pay a maximum of $728 for a one-bedroom apartment and $877 for two bedrooms.

All rents would exclude utilities.