Council considers housing loan for Centro Civico

The west face of John Florez Manor senior housing. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

During a Tuesday work session, the Salt Lake City Council considered a low-interest loan request from the Salt Lake City Housing Trust Fund to Centro Civico, a nonprofit serving the Hispanic community in the Salt Lake Valley through educational, cultural, social and athletic activities.

Centro Civico is requesting a $635,000 loan to build a six-story, 61-unit residential building, 43 of which will be reserved for low-income seniors.  The project, called John Florez Manor, will have a unit mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments.  The affordable housing units will be reserved for residents earning between 25 and 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI).   Rents for the affordable units will range between $285 and $784, depending on the AMI and size of the unit.

The project will replace a vacant 0.38-acre parcel, currently used as overflow parking, on Centro Civico’s campus on the 100 South block of 600 West.  The 60,000 square foot building will include a ground-floor parking structure with 23 surface stalls.  Centro Civico planned the development to be transit oriented, being less than a block away from the Greektown TRAX station.  The project will have a low parking ratio, with about one parking stall for every three units.

The site plan for both phases of the Centro Civico development. Image courtesy Salt Lake City planning documents.

Centro Civico plans the residential building to be the first of two phases.  The second phase will be the redevelopment of the organization’s civic center.  The new campus will include retail space, classrooms, a black-box theater, museum, art gallery, a plaza, office space and an athletic complex.

Usually, loans from the Housing Trust Fund are distributed to developers.  In this situation, Centro Civico is the developer with Peter Corroon serving as a consultant to compensate for the organization’s lack of development experience.

Centro Civico has contracted Corroon for early development help and getting construction started on the project.  Once the project is completed Centro Civico will partner with a management company to manage the building.

Earlier this year, councilmembers approved a $550,000 loan from Salt Lake City’s Housing Trust Fund to Corroon’s development firm, Little Diamond Housing, LLC.  Little Diamond Housing plans to build a five-story, 146 unit project on the 200 North block of Cornell Street.  The Cornell Street development will include 131 units that will be reserved for residents earning up to 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI).

While he acknowledged that the Centro Civico would be senior housing and would not house families, Councilmember Derek Kitchen expressed concern that many projects receiving money from the city’s Housing Trust Fund don’t include enough three-bedroom units to accommodate more families.

Although Centro Civico focuses predominantly on serving a Spanish-speaking population, as a nonprofit they can’t discriminate against anyone and will serve all types of seniors.  Residential amenities will be geared to seniors with a group kitchen and dining area, exercise room, game area and life skill classes.

Council members will take tentative action on the loan request July 25.  If councilmembers approve the loan, the funds would account for just 6 percent of the project costs.  The Olene Walker Housing Trust Fund has committed an additional $868,000 to the project.

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