‘Hybrid’ housing coming to former Summit Sierra Land

A site adjacent to The Summit shopping center could soon be the location of a hybrid housing project.

Plans are underway – pending state approval in January – for a new apartment complex featuring regular and workforce housing at former Summit Sierra land on Mount Rose Highway and Interstate 580.

The “Summit Club” project will feature 584 one- and two-bedroom apartment units, 117 of which will be allocated as workforce housing for tenants who make 50 percent or less of the median income in Reno. The median household income in the area is $44,426 according to the Center for regional Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Per capita or individual income is at $25,663. Housing distribution for the Summit Club uses what’s known as an 80/20 concept seen in many large metro areas where 20 percent of a property is set aside as affordable housing while the rest is reserved for regular tenants. The project is currently seeking approval as part of a bond financing program from the state that uses federal funding.

Chip Bowlby, one of the managing partners for developer Sierra Summit LLC, says this will be the first project of its kind in the state to use the bond financing program on a “Class A” location, which refers to attractive areas that are typically new, have low vacancy and have higher income residents. The Nevada Housing Division could not verify if this is the first project of its kind to use the bond financing program, only confirming that it would be the first such project in two decades for Nevada.

“We’re going to show that we can take a Class A location like this and make it available for workforce housing for the city of Reno and surrounding areas,” Bowlby said. “We think it’s great and will hopefully be the first of many (similar projects).”

For some, however, workforce housing is seen as a less loaded term for affordable housing. The switch to using workforce housing is a conscious one, according to proponents. The phrase affordable housing typically carries a stigma with it, especially among some property owners who equate low-income housing to lower property values and even a higher incidence of crime.

For supporters of the project, however, the 80/20 concept is a way to address most of the key issues with affordable housing while filling a large need in the community.

“We’re kind of in a rental crisis right now in Washoe County where there are effectively zero units available that’s affordable to seniors and some families as well so we’re very excited for this supply to come into the market,” said CJ Manthe, Nevada Housing Division administrator. “It’s very much needed.”