Construction begins for entirely affordable housing subdivision

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  • Homes are under construction in the Trailview subdivision near the intersection of Monegan and Voerman roads on the eastern edge of town. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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    The Trailview subdivision held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week with the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the beginning of construction of homes in the entirely affordable housing subdivision. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • Homes are under construction in the Trailview subdivision near the intersection of Monegan and Voerman roads on the eastern edge of town. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • 1

    The Trailview subdivision held a ribbon cutting ceremony last week with the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the beginning of construction of homes in the entirely affordable housing subdivision. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

Houses are under construction in Whitefish’s first completely affordable housing subdivision.

Trailview subdivision near the intersection of Monegan and Voerman roads on the eastern edge of town is planned to include 58 single-family homes. The project will include 100% of its homes both as traditional deed-restricted based on income and for local workers.

Ground was broken on the project in January and with all the infrastructure now completed, those involved in the project gathered with the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce at the subdivision last week for ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate.

On the southern end of the property, walls were already going up for one of the houses, which are being constructed in groups of six.

Jerry Dunker, who works at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and Dave Brandt, a contractor, are behind Trailview. Neither had developed a subdivision before they jumped into the process a few years ago contacting the City of Whitefish to see how they could assist with providing affordable workforce housing.

Dunker had lived in other western resort communities and watched places like Telluride, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, struggled to provide affordable housing and also observed their programs to create that housing. When he moved to Whitefish, Dunker was surprised the city didn’t already have a housing program in place.

“We love the feel of Whitefish,” he said. “I have one child in the middle school and high school, and being in the community and running into teachers in town. I didn’t want to see the community feeling go away like I’ve seen in other places and without housing that was going to happen.”

Then the city’s 2016 housing needs assessment was released showing the city needed to add roughly 980 housing units here by 2020. So Dunker and Brandt got to work formulating their plan.

City Council in May 2018 approved the Trailview subdivision. The project came prior to the city enacting its inclusionary zoning Legacy Homes program that now requires 20% of all new residential development to include deed-restricted affordable housing.

Houses in Trailview range from a one-bedroom, one-bath with a garage for $265,000 up to three-bed, two-and-a-half bath with a garage at $318,000. Four different options in houses with different designs, sizes and features are included in the subdivision.

Developers are expecting to construct a group of six homes every three to four months with estimated completion for the entire subdivision in 2022. The first group of homes should be finished by spring of 2020.

The project is being financed by American Bank.

Todd Olson, vice president and branch manager at American Bank in Whitefish, said a lot of hard work went into the project from those behind it to City Council for making this kind of project a priority and city staff for creating deed restrictions with input from local lenders to ensure permanent financing will be available for eventual buyers of the homes.

“Obviously, Jerry and Dave deserve a lot of credit for bringing this forward, but it was a real community effort,” Olson said. “It was all done with local families in mind and for the long-term benefit of the community.”

Olson said as a community bank, American Bank is very proud to be part of the project.

“The thought of helping provide new homes is something to be proud of, in Whitefish and close to the schools for 58 local families is truly gratifying,” Olson said. “It’s huge and means a lot to a community like ours.”

The developers not only created the concept, but also developed the land with infrastructure and now are constructing the homes that will eventually be purchased.

Dunker said he quickly realized that the only way to create an affordable housing subdivision was to do the process from start to end.

“We’re the first ones in Whitefish to do a project like this from the subdivision all the way through to the housing,” he said. “Typically a developer creates the subdivision and then sells the lots, but we figured out that the only way to do it economically to control the costs was to do the whole process.”

Both Dunker and Brandt recognize that as the first private totally affordable housing subdivision in Whitefish it’s up to them to make a great project and hope that their experience with Trailview can help spur them toward future affordable projects.

“We’re doing this while still seeing how we can make it a success,” Brandt said. “There is always an investment to make a project work. We have to recognize that investment, while making sure this is a successful affordable housing project.”

Trailview is including attention to detail from the design and look of the outside of the homes, to the interior for the future homeowners who will live in those houses, they note.

“When people see the product we know they’ll be impressed with what they see,” Dunker says. “We’re making sure the houses have what people need — like a washer and dryer — there’s a lot of areas like that where we could cut and that adds up to savings for a lot of homes, but we want to make sure that the owners have what they need when they move in. These homes need to be done right.”

The least expensive home, called the Cameron Creek, at 1,020-square feet includes one bedroom and one bathroom, along with an office/guest room. The house also includes an oversized two-care garage with workshop/storage area. The cost for the home in the first phase is listed at $265,000.

On the upper end, the Triple Divide home is the largest with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. It is just under 1,400 square feet and features a two-car garage, mudroom and en-suite master bath.

All homes are planned to come equipped with energy efficient appliances including the refrigerator, range, dishwasher, microwave, and washer and dryer.

Restrictions require that homeowners meet certain income guidelines for purchasing the homes and they must be used as primary residences. Trailview is working with the Whitefish Housing Authority to qualify buyers for the homes, and based on deed-restrictions re-sale pricing of homes will be set by the housing authority and is limited to a 3% annual appreciation of the purchase price.

Construction of the homes is beginning on the south end of the subdivision and then is expected to move northward. Homes are to be constructed in clusters of 10 surrounding small parkettes.

The north end of the project includes a park of 1.56 acres dedicated to the city for future development. An extension of the city’s pedestrian path has already been completed on the western boundary of the subdivision from Voerman Road connecting to the city’s Rocksund Trail.

Applications are being taken for purchasing the first homes in Trailview. For more information, visit www.trailviewhomes.com or contact real estate agent Kristin Zuckerman, with Glacier Sotheby’s, at 406-291-0778.

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