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Sawmill Lofts
  Sawmill Community Land Trust announces
Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Sawmill Lofts
Wednesday, June 29, 2005, at noon

Ken Balizer or Connie Chavez (505) 764-0359


Albuquerque, N.M. - A groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million plus, 60 unit Sawmill Lofts will be held on June 29, 2005 at noon. The live-work artist loft apartments will be located at 1801 Bellamah Ave. NW; on the corner of 19th St. and Bellamah NW, a few blocks from Old Town and within walking distance to Downtown.

The project, developed by Sawmill Community Land Trust (SCLT) and JL Gray Co., will serve artists and crafts-persons with live-work space. Rents will be below market for income eligible tenants in an effort to support the artisan community with affordable housing. SCLT is committed to addressing affordable housing, economic development and redevelopment within the Sawmill/Downtown area and has been working on the project for almost 2 years. JL Gray is a private company that develops and manages affordable housing in N.M. and Ariz.

The Sawmill Lofts is a residential project in a mixed-use area and is intended to support artisans with affordable space to live and create their art. The project will serve 60 families whose incomes are below 60% of median income for the area and varies by family size (ex. 1 person family can make up to $22,700 and a 3 person family up to $29,280). The lofts will vary in number of bedrooms and size with 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms ranging in size from 613 to 1,149-square feet. The rents will be based on income as set by HUD and are bracketed for 2005 from $353/month to $774/month. The combination of flats and 2 story units are uniquely open with a great variety of floor plans and large windows and atrium doors for natural light. Attention to energy savings and conservation of resources was a major design theme.

Amenities include a common artist work room with garage door opening, oversize elevator, and a large multi-purpose space for social events, meetings, art shows and small performances. Outdoors will include a children's play area, space for a vegetable garden and barbeque grills.

Dekker Perich Sabatini Architects created and managed the design process, starting with community design workshops in 2003, and submittal to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA) in 2004, to final construction drawings and permit in 2005.

MFA awarded $4,875,340 in housing tax credits to the project in their 2004 allocation and included the coveted MFA Design Award. Global Structures, a subsidiary of Jaynes Corporation, will serve as the general contractor and participated throughout the design process as part of the development team. Market research for the project was done by Cantera Consultants.

Equity financing and the construction loan were provided by the Wachovia Housing and Community Development Corporation and Wachovia Securities Bank based in N.C. MFA provided the permanent financing commitment of $1,560,000 with a HUD backed loan. In addition, a predevelopment loan was provided by Enterprise Social Investment Corp and a grant from the Housing and Neighborhood Economic Development Fund of the City of Albuquerque. Based on a Development Agreement between SCLT and the City of Albuquerque originated in 1999, the City conveyed the land for the affordable housing project.

Speakers at the ceremony will include Councilor and Former Director of SCLT Debbie O'Malley, MFA Executive Director Katherine Miller and Albuquerque Arts Alliance Executive Director Cricket Appel. A complimentary lunch and refreshments will be provided at the groundbreaking.

SCLT was organized in 1997 in order to carry out the development goals of the Sawmill/Wells Park community. The community started organizing almost 20 years ago in an effort to stop the environmental degradation of the area by the former Ponderosa Products. Organized as the Sawmill Advisory Council, the community slowly brought about change in the form of environmental controls, paved streets, fire hydrants and ultimately the purchase by the City of Albuquerque (with federal and state support) of the 27 acre parcel now called Arbolera de Vida (Orchard of Life).

Sawmill Community Land Trust was formed to be the master developer of the site and implement an ambitious masterplan. One of the key goals of the master plan was to create a permanent reserve of affordable housing on land controlled by the community. That plan also created a mixed use and mixed income community intended to foster integration of old and new communities and neighbors getting to know each other. The masterplan was determined through a series of community workshops.

The Sawmill Lofts will be a prominent part of Arbolera de Vida, which at full build-out, will include over 110 units of ownership housing, 90 units of rental housing (includes the Sawmill Lofts and the senior apartments), a plaza (completed as part of Phase 1), offices with community meeting facilities, a child care center, and 10 acres of economic development/job producing projects. Phase 2A of the project began last November with the construction of mile of rail and relocation of an old rail spur. That is continuing with current construction by Salls Brothers of drainage and other public and private infrastructure and will result in 30 additional homes of which 28 will be affordable to low and moderate income families.

For more information about SCLT see our website at www.sawmillclt.org or call (505) 764-0359.

The Sawmill Lofts is a 60-unit live/work affordable rental project located on a 2-acre site within the Arbolera de Vida community. This project targets artists, crafts-persons, and compatible businesses for both affordable housing and economic development that focuses on wealth building for the community. Units will be available to persons with incomes below 60% of Area Median Income. This project received pre-development funding from the City of Albuquerque, financing from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) of NM Mortgage Finance Authority, and grant funds from the Home Depot Foundation to incorporate green design to increase energy and water efficiency in the rental units.

The project will have 28 one-bedroom, one-bath units ranging in size from 609 to 685 square feet, 18 two-bedroom, one-bath units ranging from 845 to 870 square feet, and 14 three-bedroom, two-bath units ranging from 1,113 to 1,220 square feet. Residents will share a two-story multi-purpose room for social events, meetings, and performance or art shows. The New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund has expressed interest in providing on-site business technical support for residents.

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