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La Plata County approves bonds to remodel Tamarin Square

Commissioners express desire to preserve complex as affordable housing
Tamarin Square houses low-income seniors on East Third Avenue in Durango. Tamarin Square’s designation as affordable housing will expire on 2023. However, a planned remodeling project is expected to preserve the units as affordable.

La Plata County commissioners approved about $2.9 million in bonds this week to help remodel and preserve an apartment complex on East Third Avenue as affordable housing.

Tamarin Square, a 68-unit apartment complex built in 1982, is set to lose its affordable housing designation in 2023, according to La Plata County documents. The complex serves low-income residents 62 and older, according to its website.

Tamarin Square resident Ben Galloway, 85, said he moved into the complex about 1½ years ago and it provides critical housing for some of his fellow residents.

“Some of them would be in dire straits if they didn’t have this place,” he said.

Remodeling the complex with specific forms of financing set aside for affordable housing, including La Plata County’s private activity bonds, will ensure the complex cannot transition to market-rate housing, said Jerilynn Martinez, spokeswoman for the Colorado Housing and Financing Authority.

The complex will require $14 million in bonds and tax credits to refurbish it and ensure it remains affordable housing through 2053, said Jenn Lopez, a housing consultant, at a recent county meeting. Lopez is working with the GHC Housing Partners, the company that owns the complex.

La Plata County Commissioner Clyde Church said at the meeting he was happy to support the project.

“I am very excited to get this project going,” he said. “I think it will benefit our community. ... It takes an accumulation of funds to make projects workable and finish them.”

The bonds are private activity bonds commonly issued by states or local governments for specific purposes such as low-income housing, student loans and economic development, according to La Plata County documents. The bonds cannot be used to finance public infrastructure projects, such as repairing roads, Martinez said.

Lopez said she expected to have financing in place to start remodeling Tamarin Square in 2020.

La Plata County will likely be asked to provide additional bonds for the complex next year, she said.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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