Promontory Employee Housing Obligation Remains Unmet
At their most recent meeting, the East County Planning Commission was asked to decide about a plan to satisfy the Employee Housing obligation of Promontory.
In the end, they gave a negative recommendation to the plan, because it is tied to the South Point development proposal—which has been withdrawn.
The planning staff report for last Thursday’s East County planning session noted that on March 1st, a joint meeting was held with the county council, the East County Commission and the Promontory developers.
The county officials said that since 68% of Promontory’s density has been platted and several club facilities are operating, it is a reasonable time, under the original 2001 Development Agreement, to call for the employee housing to be done.
In response, the county got a plan in late May submitted by a representative of the South Point Development application.
Their proposal, formally a separate project, has contemplated revising the South Point phase of the original plan, to create over 1,000 residential units and 190,000 square feet of commercial.
But earlier this year, the East County Commission gave it a negative recommendation.
Before South Point could go to county council, developer Francis Najafi withdrew the application in a June 8th letter. He said they wanted to go into discussions with the county, in particular about the employee housing, but the county had scheduled a public hearing instead.
At last week’s East County meeting. South Point wasn’t there but Promontory was represented by its counsel, Sean Potter, and General Manager Robin Milne.
Milne told the East Side Commission, and KPCW, that the obligation for Employee housing has been placed squarely on the South Point property.
“The obligation for Promontory’s employee housing was in 2007 moved to South Point. Accepted by the county, ratified by the county in 2016 and South Point has accepted the obligation. The obligation is squarely with South Point.” Milne continued, “We’d like to see it discussed, worked through and done.”
Potter said in the meeting that it had long been contemplated that employee housing would be done in the last phase of the project, South Point. East Side Chairman Tom Clyde responded to that.
“I can almost be persuaded on that, except that South Point as it existed in 2007 is not what you’re intending to build. There’s no time schedule on when they’re intending to build that. There’s no pending application on what South Point.” Clyde said, “It’s entirely speculative, this is what happens out there. I can appreciate the desire to make changes to the plan, markets have changed, conditions have changed a little bit. All of that is valid but this plan that ties to a withdrawn application as if it had been approved. I don’t know what to do with it.”
Clyde said it looks like Promontory is relying on another entity to solve its employee housing problem. But Milne didn’t agree with that.
“It’s sounding like from the conversation that we’re trying to avoid an obligation and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I would say listening to the South Point developer and, all I can do is repeat what we heard from the developer, they actually are responding more to the social equity aspects of building employee housing and median income housing.” Milne said, “If we were to build something inside Promontory you can’t walk, bicycle, you can’t get to a school, there’s no grocery stores, there’s no transit. That is not going to be helpful to that community. South Point is all about building a community that does have social equity for that workforce.”
The employee housing requirement comes to something like 37 units, but the planning commissioners said they don’t expect to see all that built this summer. Commissioner Tonja Hanson asked Promontory if they could figure a way to get a few units done this year.
“It would behoove Promontory to think about employee housing without waiting for South Point. It would do you well for your business plan. Throw us a bone. I love the idea of going out and finding housing somewhere else, buy it, put people in there, and then sell it for a profit and move in.” Hanson continued, “I think there’s an opportunity here to think outside the box and to find some solutions while we’re waiting for the next application to come forward. I ask you to look at that and see how it might help you and your own business moving forward.”