bblcity-thumbWhen the City of Big Bear Lake’s Improvement Agency was re-established last year, given the addition of Redevelopment Director Lyle Haynes, it was decided that top priorities would be to adopt a First-Time Homebuyer Program in Big Bear Lake (which was done this year) and to construct quality, affordable housing. This plan has come together with the City’s proposed partnership with Urban Housing Communities, a Santa-Ana based company run by three brothers. UHC has been working to achieve federal tax credits for the completion of a 42-unit affordable housing apartment complex on Knickerbocker Road, a project billed as “The Crossings” which the Planning Commission has recommended for City Council/Improvement Agency approval, when it is addressed as a Public Hearing Item on the August 10 City Council agenda. In the interim, John Bigley of UHC was present with city staff at Council’s July 27 meeting, to review elements of the project and, given the expertise of the city’s redevelopment agency consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates, outline the use of $5.4 million in Improvement Agency subsidies to help fund the project—which, again, would be eligible for significant tax credits (to be awarded in September), and would not use any city funds. In explaining the project, Haynes told Council, “This project is really geared toward, and will be made available for, our workforce, those people who are the backbone of our tourist industry.” Haynes also gave some background on UHC, noting, “Their role in this is pulling all the revenue together. It’s a tremendous amount of upfront investment at their risk.” Haynes went on to say that the company has a “tremendous track record,” which includes long-term management and operation of housing complexes once buildings are complete. On the Knickerbocker Road property, which was once home to the Bluebird Lodge in the ’20s, per the City’s Director of Building and Planning Jim Miller, “They’ve made an effort to make it blend in with our architecture.” The project would include 42 units of varying sizes, which would be made available to low-to-median income families—families that would have to meet a number of requirements, including criminal background checks. Some members of the Village Business Association expressed their concern about building this project adjacent to the Village, though, per Haynes, “I think it’s going to be tremendously positive. All those kids will have parents, and those parents will have jobs. This is a tremendous opportunity to provide better housing–decent, safe, sanitary. They will be hard-working residents, and they will benefit the Village.” The developer also plans to implement after-school programs to benefit young residents at the housing site, which is just up the street from the Teen Center. Other factors in the proposed project include a provision to hire local sub-contractors, a tree management plan, installation of a sidewalk on Knickerbocker, and to assure Improvement Agency funds (20% of which must go to affordable housing projects, per mandates) in order to have access to funds for other projects, such as Village improvements.