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DENVER-The Metro Mayors Caucus and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority are offering a $53-million financing pool to developers of multifamily, affordable transit-oriented developments. The pool is composed of tax-exempt private activity bonds from caucus members Arvada, Centennial, Denver, Lakewood, Littleton, Northglenn and Westminster.

The contributions are matched by CHFA. The tax-exempt financing allows developers to achieve lower debt financing costs and provide access to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program for equity.

The financing pool is available to developers of multifamily rental projects within the boundaries of Denver’s Regional Transportation District. Projects must meet affordability criteria and must be within 1,500 feet of and provide a direct pedestrian connection to a planned or existing transit authority.

In November, voters approved the $4.7 billion FasTracks transit initiative, which will create 119 miles of new light and commuter rail in the metro area. Of the 57 light rail stops planned, 51 of them have development potential. And, of those, 18 have 10 acres or more available for development.

“This gives us unparalleled opportunity to build new communities throughout the region,” says Mayor John Hickenlooper. It provides a way for the region to grow “without strangling itself on sprawl,” he adds.

Hickenlooper says FasTracks is the most comprehensive, integrated transit plan ever approved in the nation. Lakewood Mayor Steve Burkholder agrees. “Living close to mass transit makes it possible for low- and moderate-income families to reduce their transportation costs and that money can be saved, invested, or dedicated to other critical needs,” Burkholder says. He notes that in Dallas, office properties near light rail command lease rates that on average are 59% higher than similar properties not near light rail. And residential areas near light rail stops are 39% more valuable.

Roy Alexander, executive director of CHFA, says the $53 million will be leveraged with other money, to allow at least twice that to be available to developers. He estimates that an average price of $100,000 per unit, $100 million would supply 1,000 affordable units. These units would be aimed at people such as store clerks, school teachers, office workers, nurses and other working people who might otherwise be priced out of living near light rail stations.

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