The town of Taos council discussed different aspects of four separate, current or future housing complexes in Tuesday's online council meeting (April 27). Here's a breakdown of each one.

Rehabilitation of Mariposa Apartments

Chelsea Investment Corporation, based out of Carlsbad, California, is set to acquire the Mariposa Apartments in hopes of renovating them, constructing additional units and preserving the USDA-RD rental assistance program. They came before the town council to seek a letter of support in order to move forward with their application.

Currently, the Mariposa Apartment complex on Mariposa Place has 52 units, but Chelsea Investment Corporation plans to add six additional units - all three-bed, two-bathroom units - for a total of 58 apartments on the property. They also hope to renovate the existing units, along with building a community center, adding a social services coordinator, two additional offices, and playgrounds. They also vowed to maintain the neat exterior of the apartments, and stay consistent with the design of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Chelsea said the project will be primarily funded by tax credits for affordable housing, and will serve households with children, with a preference for active and retired military.

The council voted unanimously to approve the letter, with an additional resolution on the table for the next council meeting. Renovations are expected to begin in December of 2021.

Proposed subdivision on Salazar

Local developer Mark Yaravitz came before the council to present his proposal for an 81-lot subdivision off of the southwest side of Salazar Road, near the "gravel pit," or the frisbee golf course. Yaravitz explained the project is aimed at providing first-time homeowners with a more affordable opportunity than can usually be found in the area.

Yaravitz said he requested the council's support for participation in certain elements, as well as grant Public Improvement District status. He explained the development was designed to maximize the number of lots, and added that "we haven't scrimped on the open space."

He said the development will consist of 1,200-square-foot houses, each with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with the option of adding a fourth bedroom. There are two floor plans which could be reversed for a total of four different floor plans.

The homes are designed to be owner-occupied, and Yaravitz said there is incentive to stay in the homes due to a second or third "soft mortgage," which would discount the amount by $35,000 if the owner stays for 10 years.

Yaravitz said the going rate for the homes will be $295,000, which he said is $80,000 less than current market value. In terms of financing, he said the approximate monthly rate for the homes would be $1,395 a month for a 30-year mortgage.

He estimated the project could take four to eight years to complete, and it would likely be done in four phases, with 20 units built in each phase.

There was some questioning from councilman Darien Fernandez about the feasibility for adding additional units in order to bring the price down, but Yaravitz quickly said he had thought it through and concluded a quarter of an acre was the smallest lot size he wanted. He explained that a household earning $50,000 a year could easily afford the mortgage payments, and said he foresees the homes being attractive for "firemen, policemen and teachers."

"We have to stop the exit of our young families and the brain drain," Yaravitz wrote in the development proposal. The council voted unanimously to endorse the project going forward.

Chamisa Verde development Phases 1 and 2

The Chamisa Verde development plans were originally unveiled in 1995, but it has hit several stumbling blocks over the past decades. After being held up in the late 2000s after being looked into by the Mortgage and Finance Authority and then state auditor Hector Balderas for potential violations during the first phase of the project, the development might now start to move forward.

The land, which is located off Paseo del Cañon between the Loma Parda apartment complex and Gutters Bowling Alley, is owned by the town, so it comes before the council to come up with a request for proposal (RFP) from private developers. The town will then collect some portion of return on their investment.

Town of Taos manager Rick Bellis explained they have had five lawyers working on "clearing up the problems from decades ago," and they are finally ready to move forward. He described the vision for Chamisa Verde's second phase as a mixed use/mixed income housing community that would consist of full self-sufficient neighborhoods, including neighborhood stores and a live/work scenario.

The town must first develop a request for quotation (RFQ) in order to make sure the firm that gets the contract "has done something so the project doesn't look like a prison," then follow up with an RFP to actually build out the project, explained Bellis.

The council voted unanimously to start working on drafting and RFQ and RFP.

Mary Medina Building demolition

The Mary Medina building sits on the corner of Gusdorf Road and Cruz Alta Road and has been vacant since the mid-2000s. The building was given to the town of Taos after an agreement was approved between the town and the General Services Department in 2010.

Bellis made a presentation to the council and discussed that they are seeking an RFP for the demolition of the building and the transformation of the space into affordable housing units.

The building was originally included in the RFP for what is now the Ochenta Apartment Complex, a property built by Steve Crozier of Tierra Realty, who also constructed Tierra Montosa and Loma Parda, among others. Bellis suggested that perhaps Crozier would be interested in bidding again, and said the original proposal included a "low density plan with gardens and playgrounds. I'd be happy to let that go ahead, but if he can't do that, we want to move this."

Bellis explained the demolition and buildout of the complex will likely use public money for the project, and that it will most likely require them to find a public subsidy to underwrite it. Mayor Daniel Barrone questioned if the town had the funds for demolition, to which Bellis responded there was approximately $250,000 that was set aside for an art space that was never agreed on that could be put toward the project.

The council voted unanimously a fourth time to go ahead with drafting an RFP.

Bellis stated at the end that all four projects were only possible to undertake due to the public private partnerships that have been established, as well as future help from the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District.

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