Request to increase future Sylva apartment complex’s size approved
Two years after Sylva leaders first cheered a proposal for a workforce housing complex across the road from Harris Regional Hospital, not a shovelful of dirt has been turned on the 17-acre property.
But plans for the Village Overlook Apartments are not dead — in fact, they’re getting grander, with town commissioners approving a request during a March 8 Board of Adjustments meeting to increase the size of the planned complex from 54 units to 60.
“I think this will be great for Sylva,” said Commissioner David Nestler as the board prepared to vote on the conditional use permit request. “If you’re below that income threshold, there’s a shortage of quality housing in this town, so I think this is a great solution.”
The complex would set rents at a level deemed affordable given Sylva’s median household income, with some apartments open to people making at or below 40 percent of the area median income and others open to those making 60 percent or less. However, residents would be allowed to stay at Village Overlook should their incomes rise above the threshold for admittance over the course of their time there.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program,” said Karen Perry, owner of the development company KRP Investments. “You step up. As people start to get raises, get a better job, whatever, they still have a place to stay.”
However, Village Overlook will become a reality only if KRP’s application for a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is granted. It’s applied for the program twice before and been denied both times. Perry is hoping that this year, third time will be the charm.
“The full application is due in May, and then we wait and we wait until August, on baited breath,” Perry told town commissioners. “Hopefully this year we will have this success.”
If awarded, the tax credits would be sold to an equity investor, allowing rents to be set at levels affordable to the target demographic. KRP will then move “very quickly” to get the rest of the financing together — Perry hopes to use conventional financing and funding from the state’s Workforce Housing Loan Program — and complete final construction plans. Construction would then start in spring 2019 with leases starting October 2019.
The $8.3 million complex would include three three-story buildings holding up to 60 units, some with one bedroom, some with two and some with three. It would also include a clubhouse featuring an exercise room, laundry room, computer room and multi-purpose room where a variety of classes and community events could be held, Perry said. In similar projects she’s worked on, opportunities such as budget classes and exercise classes have been offered as well.
“We try to forge and build a community within a community,” she said.
Plans also call for a playground and covered picnic area, as well as a significant amount of green space. The development is set to take up only 8.1 acres of the 17-acre property.
John Jeleniewski, senior planner for Jackson County who handles Sylva’s planning issues, told commissioners that he’d recommend approval of the request with just a couple conditions. KRP should submit final construction plans to ensure that they fully comply with Sylva’s zoning ordinance, and the company should be encouraged to use downward-facing outdoor lights to prevent light pollution.
He found that the proposal met all requirements for being granted a conditional use permit and noted that the 107 planned parking spaces exceed the required 90 spaces. The complex would be located at an existing traffic light, making traffic issues easy to manage.
The town board, sitting as the Sylva Board of Adjustments, voted unanimously to approve the request.