Construction has begun on the Arroyo Crossing subdivision. [Rachel Fixsen / Moab Sun News]

The Moab Area Community Land Trust announced this week that crews are breaking ground on the first homes at Arroyo Crossing, a new subdivision in Spanish Valley that will have homes to own and to rent deed-restricted to Grand County workers with middle to low income. Construction of the first homes, which will be built by local nonprofits Community Rebuilds and the Housing Authority of Southeast Utah, was delayed for several months as the volunteer-run land trust worked to establish all the policies and agreements needed to secure insurance and financing, balancing requirements of various partners and regulations. Now construction has begun, and the nonprofit will soon have a paid executive director to manage the project: Kaitlin Myers, who currently works as Senior Project Manager for Moab City, will join the MACLT in January of 2022.

The first round of building will include 17 homes for families and individuals, and is anticipated to take about nine months. Both Community Rebuilds and the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah’s Mutual Self-help programs require homeowners to contribute “sweat equity” by helping to work on the construction of their homes.

“Plans and designs continue as MACLT works with other developers and planners to build out the neighborhood,” says a Nov. 6 press release from the nonprofit. The neighborhood is planned to include a community center and a mix of home types. Within the next few years, the development will include apartments to rent. The development is projected to eventually have 248 residential units.

The MACLT was established as a nonprofit in 2012, and in 2018 received a land donation of 41 acres in Spanish Valley and began researching, planning, and drafting ways to create an affordable housing development. In 2019, the organization was awarded $4.3 million in New Market Tax Credits to build the infrastructure for the new neighborhood including roads and utilities; those were completed in 2020.

Under the land trust model, the land under the new homes belongs to the MACLT in perpetuity, while the homeowner owns the vertical improvements on the lot. The land trust and homeowner enter into a 99-year renewable lease agreement, rather than conducting a sale. Homeowners may sell their Arroyo Crossing homes, but the land remains the property of the land trust. Under these terms, the homes can be more affordable because the cost of the land is removed from the price, and because the land trust maintains restrictions on resale prices.