Developers vie for Wolfforth Council’s support

Two developers tempted Wolfforth City Council members with the prospect of new residents Monday night.

But at best, only one can come to Wolfforth.

Wolfforth Council members were asked for support from Roundstone Development and from Wilhoit Properties months ago.

Each developer wanted to apply for tax credits given to developers who build low-income housing in a federal Internal Revenue Service project administered by the states. In Texas, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs administers the competitive process for tax credit properties. Only one project in the Lubbock/Amarillo region will be selected for the low-income tax credit program.

Roundstone Development and Wilhoit Properties, which both backed projects in Wolfforth, were tied for the top slot among a field of seven applications submitted.

Roundstone Development approached the Wolfforth Council last fall about building 80 single-family homes off the southwest corner of Patterson Park, with access from Fifth Street. The development would be known as Monarch Meadows.

Wilhoit Properties approached the Wolfforth council in February about building a 96-unit apartment complex in southeast Wolfforth off of U.S. 62/82 along what is 90th Street in Lubbock. That complex would be known as Cypress Lake Apartments.

Of all the applications, only the two Wolfforth applications were further analyzed by the state to see if their self-scores measured up. The Wilhoit Properties project was docked two points on its project, so Roundstone Development would be the likely winner of the application process.

But Roundstone Development apparently lacks a required loan from a governing body in the area of $80,000. The loan, according to Bob Colvard, a developer with Roundstone, is meant to show community support for the project.

Colvard had approached the Wolfforth council in January to request an $80,000 loan. At a meeting on Jan. 23, he told the council that nothing says Roundstone Development must take the loan once it is approved. He also told the city Roundstone could put $80,000 in an escrow account to cover the loan for the city if it is needed. Roundstone’s project, he said, would be a major financial undertaking and would not need $80,000 to be completed. The company needed the money to succeed in the application process, he said at the time.

At the January meeting, the council did not make a decision about Colvard’s request.

Colvard apparently did not get a loan from another governmental entity between January and the time of the application.

When Wilhoit Properties was docked two points in the tie-breaker phase of the application process, Colvard told council members Monday night that he sent a letter to the South Plains Association of Governments requesting that it give Roundstone the loan it had already voted to give to Wilhoit. SPAG declined to give Wilhoit’s loan to Roundstone, Colvard said.

Then, after an appeal by Wilhoit failed to get the two points back in the application process, he wrote another letter to SPAG asking for the loan money. Again, he said, he was denied the loan money already earmarked for Wilhoit.

Colvard told the council Monday night alternately that if he doesn’t get the loan money, the tax credit project will be awarded to another Lubbock-area applicant, or be given to another area in Texas entirely.

The Roundstone representative also told the council he has until some time in August to get the loan, or the project will go elsewhere. He told them they do not have to produce the loan money until the project is 80 percent complete. Roundstone, Colvard said, could still put $80,000 in an escrow account for the city. Another alternative, he said, is that he could approach SPAG when the project nears the 80 percent completion mark, and request the loan from that body instead.

“Does the city even have $80,000?” asked new council member Julie Merrill. When she saw heads shaking around the room, she asked, “If we don’t have it, how can we help them?”

Mayor Charles Addington, who was a council member when Colvard approached the council for the $80,000 in January, tried to pin Colvard down on the changing details of what he wants from the city.

“Before, it was, ‘No money is going to change hands,’ ” Addington said.

Colvard said there would be no need for a check for around 18 months, and the money doesn’t have to be paid back over a three-year term, but could be paid back to the city a lot sooner.

Councilman Ramiro Villarreal said it seems there are still a lot of questions about the project, and suggested that the council re-consider the project in two weeks at its July 16 regular meeting. The council took no action on Colvard’s request for an $80,000 loan on Monday night.

The council also heard from Holden, a regional vice president with Wilhoit Properties, who reiterated he is not asking the council for money.

“I’m here in defense mode,” Holden said. He said in meetings a year ago, he defended another competitor in the tax credit process in Wolfforth when community members turned out to protest that applicant’s plans to build closer to the Patterson Park playa lake.

But he quoted from Mark Twain, stating that the rumors of his application’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Holden told the council members that if Roundstone’s application is ultimately docked several points because Colvard does not have a government loan, the project will not be just automatically awarded to a Lubbock project or even given to some other project in another part of the state.

“That cannot happen,” he said. “You can’t take that funding and just go to El Paso.”

Instead, he said, the next projects on the list will be reviewed.

Holden said he has reviewed all of the other applications, and believes his project will still outperform the projects on that list, even after having been docked two points. Many of the other projects have deficiencies in their application process, which will lead to them ultimately being docked as well, he said.

The one project that could still beat Wilhoit’s project in Wolfforth is another Wilhoit project, which Holden said he will personally pull from the application process in order to make sure the Wolfforth Wilhoit project succeeds. He said he has worked to get a housing project in Wolfforth for two years, and it is important to him personally.

“I’ll sacrifice that application for this,” Holden said.

The council took no action on Holden’s information.

Reached Tuesday afternoon on his cellphone, Colvard said the only items he put into the application packet were a letter stating that Roundstone would seek funding from the city and a letter from the city stating it had received that request.

City Secretary Debbie Perkey said Tuesday the city had given a letter stating it had received Colvard’s request to him.

Councilman Randy Gross said “at no time” did the city indicate to Colvard that it might give Roundstone $80,000.

Gross said the current request for a loan doesn’t necessarily put pressure on the city.

“It does put us in a bit of a predicament,” Gross said. “You know, we all want growth, and this is a potential growth for us. It is hard for us to just flat out say no.

“But in our position, I don’t see how we can do this.”

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