By Manuel C. Coppola, Nogales International
Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 1:43 PM MST
The 104 units at Las Terrazas apartments on Patagonia Highway in Nogales are due for a $7.3 million facelift, thanks in large part to a grant from the Arizona Industrial Development Authority.
The complex was constructed in the 1980s with U.S. Department of Agriculture funding that required the developer to maintain Las Terrazas as affordable housing for 20 years, according to Patrick Ray, AIDA program manager. When that requirement expired, the Stockton, Calif.-based landlord, DFA Las Terrazas Associates, had the option to convert the apartments to regular market or luxury units.
However, DFA applied for a $6.2 million grant from the development authority that was finalized on Wednesday, Jan. 12. It effectively requires DFA to preserve the affordable nature of the complex for all of the units “for at least another 15 years,” Ray said.
The entire complex will be set aside for families earning less than 60 percent of the area’s median income – currently about $29,300 for households and $18,500 for individuals. The rental amounts are restricted to no more than 18 percent of the median income.
“Limited affordable housing in rural Arizona remains an impediment to growth and prosperity for many communities,” Ray said. “This project helps maintain affordable housing for qualifying families in a safe community.”
Locally, as of November 2021, there were 84 individuals or families on a waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers, or Section 8 funding from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Robert Thompson, director of the Nogales Housing Authority, said just 15 families have received Section 8 vouchers since then. But the challenge is to find housing.
“It’s good to see (AIDA) funds go to apartment complexes in our area,” Thompson said.
However, just two of the apartments at Las Terrazas are listed under the Section 8 voucher program, though similar income thresholds are required for the other units.
While commending the rehabilitation of the 104 apartments at Las Terrazas, Thompson said that ideally, he would like to see more affordable apartments built in the area. However, he acknowledged that new construction costs can be prohibitively high.
At Las Terrazas, “construction is anticipated to commence this month and be completed in approximately 12 months,” Ray said.
The project comprises 12 two-story buildings, including 104 residential units with community space. Common area improvements will include an office, a lounge and meeting area. Site amenities will include playground areas for various ages of children and families, barbecue area, basketball court and 117 parking spaces for resident use only.
The complex will be greener. Ray said. Upgrades will include better thermal resistant insulation (R-30) in attic spaces; energy-efficient furnaces, water heaters and LED lighting; doors will get new weather stripping; and new insulated glazed windows that control heat transfer will replace low-efficiency windows.
“All tenants are expected to remain in their units” during the construction project, Ray said. “Should there be any tenants whose incomes exceed the low income ceiling, they will be assisted both financially and physically in being relocated to another facility.”
The AIDA financing combines low-income housing tax credits and loans from U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.