Lottery to be used to select Sitzmark tenants
June 29, 2017
The town of Winter Park will begin accepting applications on Friday for the new Sitzmark apartments located along Highway 40 in downtown Winter Park, using a lottery system to determine potential tenants.
The complex holds 28 two-bedroom units and 10 one-bedroom units. Two of the two-bedroom apartments are being allocated under a master lease to the yet-unnamed grocery store also being built adjacent to the apartments.
"It's the first major project we've had going in downtown Winter Park in almost 20 years," said Drew Nelson, town manager for Winter Park. "That says that there needed to be involvement on the town's part in some way.
"The fact that the town council is stepping out of a long held position of not taking on debt in order to pull off these projects shows me that this is important enough that we're willing to break from some traditions that have been long held, and for good reason."
Rental rights for one-bedroom apartments are going for $850, 60 percent area median income (AMI) for a household of two. Nine of the two-bedroom units will be $1,250, 70 percent AMI. The other 19 two-bedroom units are going for $1,470, 80 percent AMI.
100 percent AMI for an individual is $26 an hour and $9.38 for a household of four. Only the nine two-bedroom apartments are income restricted, requiring occupants make 80 percent AMI or less.
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Residents can only sign one year leases, and can't have more than two people in a room, with the exception of families with children under 19.
Apartments come equipped with full appliances, in-unit washer and dryer, a parking spot, storage unit and a small patio.
Applicants will be chosen based on a lottery system, which is weighted based on experience in the Winter Park workforce. In order to apply you must have at least one year in the town's workforce. The workforce is defined roughly as any occupation which serves the Winter Park community.
"A Winter Park job can be a high school teacher in Granby, or someone who works at the medical center," said John Crone, Winter Park's housing manager. "If you serve Winter Park residents for the most part it's considered a Winter Park job."
A proposal was brought to the Winter Park Town Council to waive the year requirement in the workforce for employees of the new grocery store, but the council turned down the proposal.
Applicants will be entered into the lottery twice for every consecutive year in the workforce, dating back 15 years. The highest possible amount of entries is 30. If you've left Winter Park for five or less years you can also get one entry for every year prior to leaving, for the past 15 years.
The lottery is also weighted, in a way, toward families and those who have been on the waitlist.
"You get one chance for every two years on the waitlist," said Crone. "And we have a way where we balance it for families. Kids are given chances equal to the highest parent's point earning. Otherwise families wouldn't ever have a chance against four individuals applying. And they're so important to the community."
On Friday Crone will begin accepting applications. The application period will last for a month and the lottery winners will be chosen via a computer random number generator and announced two weeks after that.
In the fall Crone will by applying for federal community building grant funds, wherein occupants could receive a free month's rent upon completion of an undisclosed number of hours of volunteer service in the community.
"We just want to encourage them to be more and more involved, and we want to reward that the best we can," said Crone.
Drew Nelson says that the completion of this project is only the beginning for Winter Park's housing plans. The town has emphasized providing housing for more of their workforce since a needs assessment report in 2014 pointed it out as a major issue.
Currently 78 percent of the town's workforce comes from outside the town. Officials are working under a mandate to try and create 40 housing units per year over the next five years, according to Nelson.
"We know what we have to do in order to continue to be a viable and healthy community," said Nelson. "Healthiness isn't just about getting out and riding your bike. It's about giving people safe places to live, access to services, access to transit, access to jobs. That's what helps make this thing a viable and vibrant community."
Nelson also teased some of the potential housing projects Winter Park is considering, including direct relationships with businesses and shorter term leasing options focused on people coming to the town early in their careers. He also mentioned a single family project in Hideaway Junction.
"This is one project, so we're not stopping here," said Nelson. "We've got some feedback, and the town council has a vision about the metric and makeup of housing going forward."
Construction of the Sitzmark properties is being handled by Big Valley Construction, LLC, operated out of Granby.
The apartments are on schedule to be finished by November.