The City and Borough of Juneau sold the first two lots of its Renninger Subdivision to the Alaska Housing Development Corporation Friday. Within the next three years, those lots could support as many as 31 affordable housing units under current zoning.
“This is huge,” said Tamara Rowcroft, the executive director of the AHDC. “It means an opportunity to build more housing, which is something that we really enjoy doing.”
The corporation bought the two lots, each about an acre, for $266,000. Now that it owns the lots, Rowcroft said it’s time for her to roll up her sleeves and “really get to work.”
Before the AHDC can break ground out at its new Jackie Street lots, located across from Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, it will have to secure financing and determine how many units it plans to build.
Building affordable housing isn’t an easy or straightforward process, according to Rowcroft, who has been working with the AHDC for more than 20 years. Projects are typically financed by multiple sources and require multiple lenders. Securing all of this takes time.
“There are a lot of steps involved,” Rowcroft said. “But once we get started, it’ll go up fast.”
Rowcroft said that the AHDC plans to build apartments on its new lots that will likely house young people moving out of home for the first time, people downsizing as they age, veterans and people with disabilities. As for the target rent, “affordable” is Rowcroft’s primary goal. It’s too early to say exactly what that will mean, but the AHDC owns three other apartment complexes nearby.
The corporation owns the Eaglewood, Ravenwood, and Gruening Park apartments all of which located in Lemon Creek, less than a mile away from the Renninger Subdivision.
This sale marks an important milestone for Greg Chaney, the city’s lands and resources manager. Completion of the Renninger Subdivision has been at the top of the Lands Division’s priority list since Chaney took over about two and a half years ago.
The way Chaney sees it, this sale “is a big deal” because it is the first sale in the first major subdivision the city has completed since the mid to late ’90s.
In late July, the city opened Jackie Street, the road that runs into the subdivision. The street cost $900,000 to build, but the city stands to make up to about $1.2 million on the remaining four lots in the subdivision.
“It’s a pretty valuable subdivision to us in terms of property value,” Chaney said.
It’s also valuable to the city in terms of housing development potential. In addition to the 31 units the AHDC can build on its two lots, the subdivision could support another roughly 150 dwelling units, Chaney told the Empire in July. That number could be even higher if any of the lot owners apply to have their land rezoned for greater dwelling-unit density.
“This is a great site for the city to transfer some of its land holdings into private hands so we can see more housing development,” Chaney said.
Gathered around a conference room table in the First American Title Company Friday afternoon, officials from the CBJ and the AHDC recognized that the sale they were there to finalize was mutually beneficial.
The city gets the money from the sale and takes a small bite out of its perennial housing shortage. The AHDC gets to build a new apartment complex, which will generate revenue and provide affordable housing.
“It’s congratulations, but it’s also thank you,” City Manager Rorie Watt said, laughing as he shook hands with Stephen Sorensen, president of the AHDC Board of Directors.
• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at 523-2279 or email@example.com.
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