At the Feb. 21 SUN meeting, Mayor Michael Hancock said the issue of affordable housing in Stapleton has been a “challenging one.” He acknowledged, “We don’t have very much at our disposal except to penalize Forest City if they don’t meet the goals before the development ends.” Hancock did not specify what those penalties might be or how they might be enforced. He did say, “We hope to be more collaborative with Forest City. We are in contact with them on a quarterly basis. We’ll use the housing trust fund… to set aside financing for both for rent and for sale. I think the TOD at Central Park is going to be a tremendous opportunity to close some of the gaps and to bring affordable housing to the marketplace.”
Hancock was responding to questions posed by the Front Porch regarding Forest City’s obligation to provide a minimum of 10 percent for-sale units “at a pace reasonably consistent with the pace of development of market rate housing at Stapleton.” Affordable for-sale housing now constitutes only 5.5 percent of for-sale housing in Stapleton.
By email, At-Large Councilperson Robin Kniech has told the Front Porch an “in-depth analysis of the build-out to date including density per acre” is underway to determine whether Forest City has set aside enough land to eventually meet the 10 percent affordable goal. She said, “There is every possibility that Forest City is on track. The city has an obligation to work with Forest City and to walk through the results [of the analysis] with the community.”
The issue of affordable housing has become more critical as Stapleton approaches build-out. Stapleton is two-thirds to 80 percent built out depending on the total build-out number, which ranges from 12,000 to 14,000 dwelling units. The concern of groups like the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) has been that Forest City would be allowed to reach build-out of market rate units without constructing all the required affordable for-sale dwellings.
Two aspects of the affordable housing issue in Stapleton have been clarified recently. First, the city says the Green Book reference to rental as one third of the total housing is a goal, not a requirement. Second, Forest City is obligated to meet the 10 percent for-sale affordable goal regardless of whether the city is able provide financial support.