Students Present Housing Ideas

Students Present Housing Ideas FAYETTEVILLE, AR - University of Arkansas landscape architecture students were asked to create designs for a low-income housing project planned on 7.6 acres being purchased by Partners for Better Housing, part of the Fayetteville Public Housing Authority.

Adjunct professor Alan Ostner, who is on the partners board, said Monday he believes his students' designs will stimulate conversation about how to develop the property east of College Avenue between 15th Street and Huntsville Road.

The authority plans to close on the property June 26, said Hugh Earnest, interim executive director. Any type of development could be used there, such as multifamily housing, housing for seniors and assisted living.

Ostner tasked his 14 students with designing an ecologically balanced neighborhood of between 10 and 30 units per acre. Students first hiked the property, which is overgrown, filled with brush and has a small wet area, not quite a stream, Ostner said.

"They studied the site carefully - the geology and existing plant life. It hasn't been tended to in decades and is possibly an old pasture," Ostner said. Students will present their ideas to the partners board, and their ideas should prove useful once a professional designer is selected, he said.

"It was a great opportunity for them to work on a real-world project," he said.

Earnest said another architect on the partners board, Rob Sharp, also created an illustrative plan depicting 56 duplexes and 16 single-family homes, at 9.36 units per acre.

The price to purchase the land is $250,000, and the authority has $170,000 available.

"We're in conversation with several banks and the Community Resource Group to loan additional funds ... some preliminary site work is needed, so we'd like to borrow about $100,000," Earnest said.

The land is close to the Fayetteville Senior Center.

The housing authority now offers 252 units in four locations, but the waiting list is more than one year.

"This project makes sense in this market," Earnest said.

A first priority for the authority is to build Morgan Manor Senior Village, where the region's first solarpowered housing project is planned to serve the city's lowest-income seniors.

Members have applied for a $262,000 grant from the federal Affordable Housing Program, which would fund solar heat and power for assisted-living units to be built adjacent to the existing Morgan Manor family units on East 12th Street.

The $1.6 million project would generate an operating income of up to $100,000 per year, consultant R.J. Stidham said. Stidham is also creating a marketing analysis for the Fayetteville area, Earnest said.

The authority has potential funding sources through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Section 202 Capital Advance program and the Public Housing Capital Fund.

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