Last spring, tenants at a Moab mobile home park discovered that their neighborhood needed redevelopment into Lost Springs Apartments, an 80-unit long-term housing development. In a March 16 letter to tenants, property owner Hampton Roads, LLC offered a $400 relocation credit to those who vacated their units by June 30; they also offered tenants one month of free rent in the new condo once it was completed.
The letter also says the owners anticipated construction would begin this fall, but the project has been delayed.
“We don’t have a timeline,” said Josh Godfrey, a representative for 2na Story Capital, the development company responsible for the project. “We are still in the process of receiving permission from the city.”
The development site plan has been approved by the Moab City Planning Commission, and the next stage is for the Department of Construction to review the plans in detail to verify they meet building code requirements, before issuing a planning permit.
City Building Inspector Barry Ellison said the city uses a third-party auditor when the process is likely to take a significant amount of time. For example, reviewing a plan for a single-family residence could take a few hours, while reviewing plans for an apartment or hotel can take up to 100 hours, time that city staff don’t have available.
Godfrey said acquiring the building permit could take weeks or months, depending on how busy third-party reviewers are, how many plan notes they have, and how much the holidays slow down the process. Developers may not make any major changes to the plan, such as the number of units or building height or floor plan, during this phase.
Once a building permit is issued, it’s valid for six months from the last inspection, Ellison said. If the building does not have an inspection in that time frame, the permit will expire.
When the site plan was approved, the developers agreed to comply with a pending city ordinance establishing a guaranteed workforce requirement for new developments in residential zones R3 and R4, provided the ordinance was approved by on April 10 of last spring. The city council was unable to meet that deadline, however, it spent some time negotiating with groups concerned about property rights. In August, the Guaranteed Housing Ordinance for the city’s workforce was passed; at that point developments bound by the pending ordinance agreement were released from their obligation.
The Insured Workforce Housing Ordinance would have applied to only a portion of the Lost Springs apartment development, resulting in about four units reserved for Grand County workers; currently, Godfrey said the developers have no plans to limit the actions to any of the units. Nightly rentals are now permitted based on the zoning of the property, so all units will be long-term residences.
Meanwhile, all but one property manager of the tenants have moved out of the mobile home park. At least one tenant has moved his trailer to another location, Godfrey said, and the Moab Valley Multicultural Center has helped the tenants relocate.
At the time the site plan was approved, city officials were optimistic and welcomed the condo project as a much-needed boost to the local housing stock, while at the same time expressing regret that this had come at the cost of lose the existing low levels. income housing and disrupting the lives of current tenants.
However, it’s unclear when the new apartments could materialize.
Godfrey said the project could face further delays due to high construction costs – “the highest we’ve ever seen” – and the highest interest rates since 2007.
“It’s making it extremely difficult for developers to build anything because no pencils,” Godfrey said.
In March, Godfrey told the Moab Sun News,
“There is a possibility that this will be approved and we can’t do it in pencil. The construction costs are too much or we can’t get financing… There’s a variety of things that could happen where it could potentially not go forward.”
For now, the property is mostly vacant and quiet. With the gap between tenants leaving the property and the construction of the new apartments, the likelihood that the former tenants will be able to accept the landlords’ offer of one month’s rent free in the new building is low.