Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2019

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Las Vegas council approves financing for major affordable housing project

One of the largest affordable housing projects in Nevada history is coming to Las Vegas, funded in part by private activity bonds and local affordable housing developers.

The Las Vegas City Council approved two resolutions today directing the state to provide $22.68 million in financing through the city’s private activity bonds for a 480-unit, majority-affordable, mixed-use housing project at South Decatur Boulevard and Alta Drive.

The $94.5 million project, a partnership between the local affordable housing nonprofit Nevada HAND and local developer George Gekakis, would be located in a designated Las Vegas opportunity zone and in an area officials say is in desperate need of revitalization.

The complex, which will house seniors, families and veterans, will have one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units. A total of 386 of the units will sell at a below-market rate, ranging from $326 to $1,169 per month.

Ninety percent of the below-market units will be sold at a price affordable for people earning between 60% and 30% of the area medium income, while 10% of those units will be designated for those earning 30% or less than the area medium income. Ten percent of all units will be prioritized for veterans. Remaining units will be sold at market rate.

“We think this is a fantastic development,” said David Paull, director of real estate development for Nevada HAND. “It’s going to bring workforce housing that is very much needed, and it’s also going to bring some very low-income units to a state that ranks last in providing those units for our citizens.”

The entire project will be developed using green building practices, incorporating solar panels and water-efficient landscaping. Supplementing the housing units, the project will include exercise rooms and pools as well as up to 15,000 square feet of retail development, documents show.

“We believe having retail in the (project) will encourage other developers and property owners to develop new properties and fix up their properties and really improve the community,” Paull said.

Las Vegas’ office of community services sets an annual goal of producing 279 affordable housing units, said Kathi Thomas-Gibson, director of community services. This project puts the city above that goal.

Nevada HAND and Gekakis will contribute a combined $8.6 million to the project. In addition, over half of the project costs will be covered by private activity bonds from the state and the city, at no direct cost to the city, Thomas-Gibson said. Las Vegas receives a share of Nevada’s private activity bonds annually, which can be used to finance affordable rental housing developments, single-family mortgages and industrial projects.

Other funding sources for the project include federal low-income housing tax credits ($26.9 million), Clark County low-income housing tax credits ($2.2 million), National Housing Trust Funds ($3.6 million) and the Nevada Housing Division’s Growing Affordable Housing Program ($6 million). Las Vegas, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program, could also contribute $1.8 million in low-income housing tax credits if the developers apply for them.

Gekakis said he was attracted to the project because the area is in need of reinvestment and has been designated by the state as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones were created through the Trump administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, offering developers a capital gains tax break if they invest in those designated, underserved areas.

“Things always come back. Things come back to downtown, and this is kind of a little sub-market to the downtown corridor,” Gekakis said.

Nevada HAND and Gekakis hope to begin construction in early 2020.