Originally Published: April 16, 2017 6 a.m.
Editor’s Note - This is the first in an ongoing series of articles highlighting “Trends: Living Spaces” in the greater Prescott area.
Apartment hunting in Prescott could become dramatically easier in coming months and years, as a total of nearly 500 new rental units continue to move through the design and development process.
This past week, the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the latest apartment project: A 42-unit complex at 1257 White Spar Road, which would take the place of the former Pine Haven Mobile Home Park.
The project still needs water-allocation approval from the Prescott City Council, but property owner Randy Goodman said he hopes to have all of the necessary approvals in place by the end of the summer.
“I want to push forward on this project,” Goodman said after the April 13 meeting, pointing out that the 2.8-acre parcel on White Spar has been vacant for more than a year – ever since the old mobile homes were moved out of the area, and the residents relocated.
If approved, the Pine Haven project (possibly under a new name) would join three other major apartment complexes that have received recent city approval: A 160-unit project on Willow Creek Road; a 200-unit complex off Willow Lake Road; and a 70-unit workforce housing project on Miller Valley Road.
City Planning Manager George Worley pointed out that two other projects, which could add a total of about 225 more units, are currently in the pre-application process as well, although formal applications have yet to be filed.
The influx of new apartment projects is a shift from the previous housing market in Prescott, which had long been focused more on single-family homes.
Development of apartments “was very quiet for a long time,” Prescott Water Resources Manager Leslie Graser said.
That reportedly led to a tight apartment market.
While Graser attributes the influx in new apartment project applications largely to market forces, a previous clarification of the city’s water policy on workforce housing likely played a part as well.
In 2016, the Prescott City Council clarified that the water it had set aside for workforce housing could be allocated to apartment complexes.
At around the same time, the number of inquiries about new multi-family projects swelled. Graser told the Planning and Zoning Commission in December 2016 that nearly 1,000 new apartment units were then on the books.
“It is kind of what the market was doing,” she said this past week, while noting as well that the city’s 2016 water policy had “opened up the opportunity for multi-family.”
That situation ended this year, however, when the workforce-housing category was eliminated in the city’s 2017 water policy.
“There were so many apartments on the books,” Graser said. And with the city’s limited supplies of water, the questions arose: “Should all the water be going to apartments? Does that make sense?”
Those questions led the council to seek a housing study to be conducted within the year.
The 2017 water policy states: “The city shall prepare a report assessing inventories and demands for apartments and other housing types within the city limits.”
The findings of that study are expected to be reported to the council “as input for the calendar-year 2018 alternative water policy and budget.”
Noting that discussions about the housing study have taken place mostly at the staff level to date, Graser was uncertain when the matter would go to the council for further discussion.
But, she said, the study is expected to take place in 2017, and it likely would require the use of a consultant.
Worley pointed out that the four recently approved apartment projects are in various stages of the approval and development process.
The new project at 3149 Willow Creek Road, for instance, is in the final building stages. Worley said the project is about one month away from final city inspections, after which the complex could open for business.
The other projects include:
• A 200-unit Prescott Lakes Village complex at 2051 Willow Lake Road – recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission in September 2016. The project is planned to be located near the Willow Lake Road/Prescott Lakes Parkway intersection, in place of the Dells View Mobile Home Park.
• The 70-unit workforce Creek View Village planned at 510 Miller Valley Road, next to the McDonald’s restaurant, which was approved by the Prescott City Council in December 2016.
Worley said the project is still awaiting word on its application to the state for a tax credit for a workforce-housing status. At a 2016 meeting, a spokesman for the developer said the apartments – with the tax-credit designation – are expected to rent in the $450-to-$600-per-month-range.
• The 42-unit Pine Haven project on White Spar Road, which is being planned as 12 two-bedroom units with no garage, and 30 two-bedroom units with garage.
The project requires a total allocation of 10.5 acre-feet of water. It already has a historical right to 7.5 acre-feet from the previous mobile-home park, and would require an additional 3 acre-feet from the city.
Once the project gets the necessary approvals, Goodman said the complex likely would take about a year and a half to complete.