A four-story, 150-unit “workforce housing” apartment project has been proposed for the corner of Central and 10th NW in Downtown, site of the 60-room Blue Moon Lodge torn down in July 2011.
Portland, Ore.-based DBG Properties has applied to Bernalillo County for an $8 million project revenue bond to finance construction. The bond application is now scheduled to be introduced at the county commission’s June 8 meeting.
The urban renewal project, called the Silver Moon Lodge Apartments, would consist of one 106,307-square-foot building shaped like an “L” and built along the sidewalks on Central and 10th, according to a project description prepared by Bernalillo County. The interior of the lot would have a swimming pool and limited parking.
The Silver Moon name was adopted as a nod to the site’s decades of use as Route 66 lodgings, said Walter “Skip” Grodahl, chairman and CEO of DBG Properties and a principal of GSL Properties, the most-active apartment developer in Albuquerque during the 2000s.
“We’re going to re-use the original lighted Blue Moon sign to mark the apartments,” he said.
The project has been designed to meet silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The building’s architectural style is described as “pueblo deco.”
“I think it’ll be cool for the area,” Grodahl said. “I think, if it works, it will attract additional investment in the area.”
The term “workforce housing” has been a buzzword in housing for several years, although definitions vary. One common thread in the various definitions is the housing, regardless of whether it’s renter or owner occupied, is moderately priced and near employment centers.
“Workforce housing is understood to describe housing for working households with earned income that is insufficient to qualify for quality housing near to where they work,” said Mayling Armijo, Bernalillo County’s economic development director.
The Silver Moon project would have 86 studio apartments, ranging in size from 429 to 547 square feet, and 64 one-bedroom apartments from 583 to 857 square feet in size. Monthly rents would range from $575 to $665, Grodahl said.
For the sake of comparison, an average studio apartment in Albuquerque is 417 square feet with a $503 monthly rent, while an average one-bedroom apartment is 668 square feet with a $661 monthly rent, according to commercial real-estate services firm CBRE.
The project has a mixed-use element with 2,816 square feet of retail space on the first floor at the corner of Central and 10th. The hope is that a restaurant will lease the space, Grodahl said.
Seeking Gen Y
The project could be seen as a housing play for Gen Y renters, or the generation of young adults born roughly between 1979 and the early to mid-1990s. Housing studies generally show Gen Y prefers to live in urban settings, close to jobs, amenities and activity.
“I think this will be attractive to younger people — in this case in affordable housing,” Grodahl said. “We want it to be a place with a sense of community, where residents mingle.”
The project would create four permanent jobs and an estimated 150 construction jobs. The 1.4-acre site is properly zoned for the proposed use.
DBG Properties, which would develop the project, currently has the site — the official address is 918 Central SW — under a purchase contract. The property was marketed by Erik Olson of NAI Maestas & Ward at an asking price of $1.175 million.
GSL Properties would manage the property. Founded in Albuquerque in 1984, the company has been based in Portland since 1988 and currently owns and manages 15 apartment properties in the metro, including the 160-unit Villa de San Felipe on the north side of Coal, between 5th and 8th streets, in Downtown.