Rick Garcia told the crowd gathered Tuesday at the new Silvertip Apartments on East Broadway there are numerous reasons he might want to be in Missoula in mid-July: the acres of wilderness to enjoy, the historic downtown, the breweries.
Instead, “I’m really here to help you celebrate a unique, creative project of Silvertip,” said the Region 8 director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Garcia joined local officials to celebrate the opening of the 115-unit affordable housing complex Tuesday.
Built by a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Development Group, the city of Missoula and the Missoula Housing Authority, Silvertip has introduced a new kind of affordable housing to the area, said Mike Bouchee, Rocky Mountain vice president in charge of the Silvertip project.
Silvertip was financed by a mix of public and private funding and will be open to qualifying low-income residents as well as those with middle to moderate incomes. University of Montana students also will be able to live at Silvertip.
“This is kind of the ultimate Missoula project. It’s a testament to the community we live in,” Bouchee said.
The Silvertip complex sits along the Clark Fork River with Mount Jumbo looming to the north and Mount Sentinel to the south. The lot that was once home to the Missoula Athletic Club now has three buildings filled with one- and two-bedroom units and a community building.
Twenty Silvertip units are owned by the Missoula Housing Authority and will be rented to tenants who earn less than 30 percent of the median area income. The other units will serve other income groups, including 83 for tenants earning less than 80 percent of the median area income.
The mix is designed to create a thriving, sustainable community, Bouchee said.
Missoula Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Davidson noted during the ceremony that most anyone making up to $70,000 can apply to live at Silvertip. MHA’s mission is to provide quality housing solutions for low- and middle-income families. “Talk about living your mission,” Davidson said.
It took four years of planning and paperwork to get the financing package in place for Silvertip.
Bouchee and Rocky Mountain co-owners Rick Wishcamper and Justin Metcalf began working on the Silvertip deal in 2009, and bought the former athletic club property in 2010. The firm focuses almost exclusively on acquiring and rehabilitating affordable housing communities. This is its only project in Missoula.
Silvertip was funded in part by a $5 million HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant, the largest chunk of neighborhood stabilization money awarded in Montana and the only grant for a multifamily housing project. The partners also secured a $6.75 million loan from HUD’s Multifamily Housing Program.
The Missoula Housing Authority provided $1 million to the project from funds secured by the sale of other affordable housing units.
HUD estimates show that 52 percent of Missoula’s renters are “cost burdened,” spending more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs.
Garcia, who works out of HUD’s Denver-based Region 8 office, praised the “unprecedented collaboration” of the partners involved. Silvertip exemplifies how creative thinking can overcome national hurdles to creating affordable housing, he said.
Silvertip property manager Kyle Graybeal led people on tours of the new units after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The units include all amenities and rent covers all utilities except electricity.
Applications are available through MHA. Many have already been filled out. The waiting list is long for MHA-qualifying renters and Graybeal expects the complex to fill up fast.
Move-in should begin Aug. 1, Graybeal said.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.