ashland.news
June 21, 2024

Habitat for Humanity will not build at Ashland’s Beach Creek subdivision

Entrance of the Beach Creek home development off North Mountain Street in Ashland. Rogue Valley Times photo by Andy Atkinson
July 5, 2023

Land was donated, but infrastructure costs of $600K weren’t in the budget

By Erick Bengel, Rogue Valley Times

The first Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity project planned for Ashland in about two decades is no more.

Facing new and formidable costs, the nonprofit decided it could not build affordable housing at the Beach Creek subdivision in Ashland, according to Denise James, the nonprofit’s executive director.

Habitat for Humanity had been partnering with KDA Homes, an Ashland-based developer, on a 50-plus-unit development where North Mountain Avenue meets the Central Bike Path.

Sited on a 10-acre property, the project entailed the annexation of 7.9 acres into the city — a move that required the developer to set aside land for affordable housing among the market-rate units.

KDA Homes had donated eight lots that Habitat for Humanity could build on. The eight houses planned for those lots would have been priced at 80% of the area median income.

Habitat for Humanity had hoped to build two units per year, and had already chosen the first two families to move in, James said. Volunteers were lined up to help the families start building their homes, she said.

Recently, however, KDA Homes asked the nonprofit for an additional $600,000 — $75,000 per unit — to help pay for the infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, fire hydrants, utilities and a bridge crossing over Beach Creek.

“We just weren’t able to do that,” James said. The request, she added, was “a surprise to us. We hadn’t planned on spending that much money.”

Mark Knox, a land-use planner at KDA Homes, informed Brandon Goldman, the city of Ashland’s community development director, that the company was no longer working with Habitat for Humanity on the project.

“This is an unfortunate turn of events,” Knox wrote in an email to Goldman, “and one that both sides are very disappointed about.”

Knox wrote that over the last few years the business “has experienced a dramatic shift in real costs,” including inflation and doubling interest rates, as well as problems with the supply chain and labor force problems.

To fulfill its obligation to the city, KDA Homes told Goldman it will seek a new affordable housing developer.

Another option, according to Goldman, is for KDA Homes to build the affordable units themselves. The two types of homes would have to be built in tandem: Before KDA Homes has built half of the market-rate units, it would need to have built half of the affordable units. The same would happen with the remaining units.

Goldman told the Rogue Valley Times in an email: “The city’s requirement for including eight affordable housing units in the annexation of this property will still be met. KDA Homes has assured the city that they are actively working towards fulfilling this requirement.”

Habitat for Humanity had also promised to build the affordable homes in conformity with the rest of the KDA neighborhood, which would have cost about $60,000 more per house, James said.

“It didn’t make financial sense for us to pay that much more, as well as pay additional for the property,” James said. “It was really only going to pencil out if the entire property was donated.”

The families who had planned to move in have been informed of the change in circumstances, she said.

Habitat for Humanity is turning to private property owners who may be able to provide land so the families can stay in Ashland.

“Nothing has been confirmed — nothing even enough to say there’s a hope,” James said. “We’re still looking.”

Reach reporter Erick Bengel at ebengel@rv-times.com or 458-488-2031. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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