Heavy equipment continues to clear land around the Meadowview development by Community Park. The Big Sky Community Housing Trust invites the public to the resort tax board office in Town Center at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, for a presentation about the housing trust’s action plan. A second presentation takes place at Big Sky Chapel that same day at 5 p.m. “It’s not just a plan. We’re implementing it,” said Tim Kent, volunteer member of the housing trust. “We’re within a year of having actual houses.”

Meadowview in community housing spotlight

New housing development in talks with HRDC, housing trust and resort tax board

Some of the biggest recent news about affordable housing—referred to locally as community housing—broke on Monday, June 4. That's when Tim Kent with Big Sky Western Bank and Brian Guyer with HRDC told the resort tax board the Big Sky Community Housing Trust planned to take over the Meadowview development and build 52 deed-restricted housing units for the local workforce.  

     The board and those gathered at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center for the annual resort tax application Q&A listened as Kent and Guyer outlined a plan that remains in the works and is relying on support from the tax board. 

     “This one fell together,” explained Kent. “We’re still negotiating today. I want to give you as much detail as possible today. We’re going to continue to develop even more detail. This is the first pass at what I’m sure will be several different conversations.”

     Originally, Kent, Guyer and the housing trust submitted an application to the resort tax for $2.5 million to purchase land in developments like Meadowview and then create affordable units on this “banked land”. At the June 4 meeting, Kent and Guyer explained how after negotiating with Meadowview’s current developers, they would like to amend the application and takeover the project with help from HRDC. 

     The revised plan lowers the overall request for resort tax money to $1.75 million in funds to spend on property acquisition and project development. 

     “We’re able to leverage the monies that resort tax will give through bank loans to develop the project,” explained Kent. “That will result in 52 units, which are priced at affordable levels for people who want to live and work here, which will be about $280,000 for a two-bedroom condominium unit and $120,000 for a studio apartment.”

     The market price for the two-bedroom condos would be around $320,000 if the resort tax dollars were not available. The resort tax board will make its final decision at the upcoming June 18 allocation meeting (6 p.m. at WMPAC).

     By collaborating with Meadowview’s developers, said Kent, “What that does is speed up our timeline by well over a year. And also, frankly, this is a very cost-effective project. So it makes sense from many standpoints to move forward with this. Which makes it much, much more affordable for somebody who’s an hourly worker in Big Sky trying to make ends meet.”         

     Kent continued, explaining the affordability is derived from the investment of resort tax dollars: “It’s the resort tax money that will shrink that price. That’s about $34,000 per unit. You take that $1.75 million, divide it by 52 and you’ll be around that $34,000. So that’s how that works.”

     Guyer went on to explain how with Meadowview, the key is, “Stewarding that money and making sure those units retain their affordability beyond those first owners. And that does require a stewardship aspect that requires staff capacity to make sure those deed restrictions are being complied with. And people aren’t using them as Airbnbs, people are not renting them, people are not doing capital improvements that will destroy the affordability down the road. So it’s critical to have the staff in place.”

     In his pitch for funding additional community housing trust staff, Guyer added, “The number of initiatives we are hoping to embark upon that will come with the action plan requires much more than one person. I’m half-time. It was pretty roundly agreed upon by the working group that created the action plan that additional staff capacity is going to be critical to getting these things off the ground.”

     Resort tax board members Sarah Blechta and Jamie Kabisch appeared frustrated by the last-minute change in the community housing trust’s funding application. 

     “I feel like it’s a half application. I can’t even ask any good questions,” said Blechta. 

     In the back and forth, Resort Tax Board Member Kevin Germain seemed to defend the housing trust, noting how with real estate deals, “Things come up and you’ve got to go.”

     Board Member Mike Scholz then noted how affordable housing has always been a core resort tax priority. 

     “This has been brought up and talked about since the day we got the resort tax,” said Scholz. “All of a sudden it’s coming into culmination.”

     Kent later explained how the deal with Meadowview’s developers—Al Malinowski, Jerry Scott and Brian Wheeler—continued to unfold hour by hour. 

     “This project is moving quickly. It’s a situation where a lot of information is still being gathered,” assured Kent. “But again, I think we all feel very confident that it’s the right project. It’s the right amount of money to spend. And you know, it will have a longterm benefit to this community.”

     Kent went on, saying of the original developers, “They have been very active in the conversation revolving around community housing and how do we do a better job than we did in the past. So I absolutely give them credit because they came to understand that we have to do deed restriction. Something that would be in perpetuity for the community, versus selling a product that they couldn’t make money off. Nobody who lives and works here would be able to afford it. So I give them all credit for recognizing that.”

     When asked who would act as the general contractor for the Meadowview project, Kent said it will be both the original developers and HRDC.

     “They (the original developers) are going to be the early stages and then HRDC will take over the later stages,” said Kent. 

     The deed-restrictions will aim to keep capital appreciation on each individual property at around  2-3 percent per year. These restrictions are kind of like an engine governor that stops over-revving—it tamps down real estate price inflation and speculation. 

     “Exactly, you idle the engine. That keeps it within the wage inflation range,” explained Kent, adding, “These are restricted to permanent residents.”

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