A fresh coat of snow sparkled under a sunny blue sky at the Dec. 13 celebration of the new Arroyo Crossing workforce housing development, established and managed by the Moab Area Community Land Trust.
“The board did order this snow, that we got at a very affordable rate, so don’t worry about the expenditure for this gorgeous view,” joked Audrey Graham, chair of the MACLT, speaking to a crowd of a couple of dozen people bundled up for the weather. The ceremony was rescheduled from the previous day to avoid the snowstorm.
The celebration marked the completion of site preparation on the 42-acre property that is destined to eventually hold around 300 housing units deed-restricted for Grand County workers and retirees. The MACLT holds the land itself in perpetuity for the purpose of maintaining an affordable housing stock; thus, homeowners in Arroyo Crossing are responsible only for the price of the home itself, reducing their overall cost. Arroyo Crossing buyers must meet an income-eligibility requirement of 120% or less of the community’s Area Median Income. According to the US Census Bureau, the AMI in Grand County from 2015-2019 was $51,557.
The development’s sidewalks, curbs, gutters, drainage, roads, and utilities to each lot are complete and ready for individual homes to be built.
The first 40 homes are scheduled to be constructed in 2021 by three developers: Moab nonprofits Community Rebuilds and the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah, and the Salt Lake City-based public Utah Housing Corporation. The development will eventually include a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes, apartments, and “cottages,” as well as a daycare center and a community garden space.
Graham recounted how the MALCT got its start when a group of community members foresaw a housing shortage in Moab and eventually founded the nonprofit land trust in 2012. The group imagined they would start small, soliciting the donation of perhaps a single house and learning to operate the legal and financial aspects of a land trust. Instead, the first property the trust received was an undeveloped 42 acre parcel from an anonymous donor in 2017. The MACLT board dove into learning about how to develop a large parcel and manage it as a trust.
A substantial donation from another anonymous local donor allowed the trust to hire Patrick Matheson, Scott Loomis, and Steve Laurent, who work with the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust in Park City. Matheson served as the project manager, and Graham praised his dedication and skill.
“You really can’t bring up an issue that he hasn’t already thought of or solved, or will figure out the answer to in 10 minutes,” she said.
Through the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust network, the MACLT got connected with the Utah nonprofit Community Development Finance Alliance, which works to deploy capital in underserved communities by providing below-market financing and technical assistance.
Graham’s sister, Amy Rowland, works with the Alliance and helped the Moab land trust get a $4.2 million loan, $1 million of which will not need to be repaid.
Graham recognized Matheson and Rowland particularly, gifting each with a piece of local art.
“We in Moab don’t have the capacity, we don’t have the knowledge or experience here to do something as complex as this project; Amy does, and she has a team that does, so thank goodness for her,” said Graham, as she presented Rowland with a framed photograph of Moab’s red rocks. To Matheson she gave a painting by local artist Janet Buckingham.
Graham thanked dozens of people and organizations who had contributed to the project, including the neighbors adjacent to the development and her own family members.
“I’m worried that Audrey might not let anyone else say something about her, so I will just briefly while I’m here,” said Matheson after receiving his gift.
He recounted Graham taking the time to visit the development’s neighbors in person to update them on the trust’s plans and progress.
“It’s sometimes sort of a difficult thing to develop near people’s homes,” said Matheson. “People don’t tend to like that.” But he said Graham’s personality won people over.
“By the end, Audrey’s hugging people on their doorstep, they’re exchanging phone numbers, you know, they’re going to each other’s Christmas parties…Audrey just has this wonderful way of helping people feel included and loved and valued,” Matheson said.
Kaitlin Myers, a member of the MACLT board and senior projects manager for the City of Moab, presented Graham with a poinsettia and a book from the board, telling her, “It’s been such an honor working with you and learning from you. This project wouldn’t have happened without you.”
Rowland, when she accepted her gift from Graham, applauded the entire Moab community.
“This is the most amazing community that we’ve worked in,” she said, noting that the MACLT board are all volunteers.
“It’s just amazing how much this community comes together to get stuff done. We haven’t had that experience in any of our previous—and probably future—projects.”
To learn more about the Moab Area Community Land Trust or the Arroyo Crossing development, visit www.moabclt.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 435-259-8664.
“It’s just amazing how much this community comes together to get stuff done.”
– Amy Rowland.