Millennium I

This rendering displays the elevation look of the Millennium I development when complete. Construction began on the affordable housing complex earlier this month.

Two affordable housing developments are likely coming to west McKinney and will be fewer than three miles from each other.

Earlier this month, Millennium I, a 167-unit apartment complex with affordable housing and Section 8 vouchers, broke ground at McKinney Ranch Parkway and Silverado Trail. Millennium II, a slightly larger but similar complex, received city approval Tuesday for a tax credit that could enable its development about 2.7 miles away.

The developer, GroundFloor Development, plans to build Millennium II at future McKinney Ranch Parkway and future Collin McKinney Parkway.

The developments are the result of a lawsuit brought against the city and McKinney Housing Authority (MHA) by Inclusive Communities Project (ICP) in 2010. The suit requires there be a variety of housing choices for all income levels throughout the city.

City officials said McKinney was targeted by ICP for two reasons: the location of affordable housing (a concentration east of U.S. 75) and the existence of the largest amount of “vulnerable” multi-family housing, or multi-family housing developed on zones that are designated for other uses.

Frisco was also sued by ICP and recently built a LIHTC development as a result of the suit.

To comply with the suit, MHA must develop 400 affordable housing units west of U.S. Highway 75 by the end of next year. The Millennium developments together have 347 units, but only about 260 are affordable housing.

More than 100 residents came to Tuesday’s city council meeting to speak out against Millennium II. Many expressed concerned with the Section 8 vouchers being permissible for each of the developments, saying they would bring down property values, increase crime in the area and negatively affect nearby schools.

Millennium II will have 13 Section 8 units, about 130 affordable units – for residents who make 50 to 60 percent of the area median income, $67,900 – and 37 market-rate units, city staff members said.

“Any landlord can accept Section 8 vouchers,” said Janay Tieken, city housing and community development manager. “The vouchers aren’t tied to the fact that this is affordable housing.”

McKinney has 10 other affordable housing developments outside of Millennium I and II. Millennium II would bring the total number of affordable multi-family units in the city to 1,946, which is roughly 10 times the amount in Allen, five times the amount in Plano and three times the amount in Frisco, according to city officials.

Martin Sanchez, CEO of Sanchez and Associates, a consultant for the Millennium developments, said those numbers should be considered in relation to McKinney’s size – now and in the future. The city, about 114 square miles, will have about 400,000 people at full build-out, he said. Frisco is about 52 square miles and Plano is about 76 square miles.

“To keep treating McKinney like it’s this small town is ridiculous,” said Sanchez, adding he lives near where Millennium II would be built. “Plano is going to be McKinney’s suburb.”

The city council's approval this week increases GroundFloor Development’s chances of approval with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), the entity that approves and provides the 9 percent tax credit. On Feb. 4, the council approved the resolution for Millennium II, but brought it back for approval this week because of a clerical error with the initial resolution, officials said.

On Tuesday, about 300 residents voiced their opposition in person or by submission, compared to about 20 who voiced their support.

“I’m not opposed to helping people; I’m not opposed to subsidized housing,” said resident Kathy Davis. “I am opposed to how close they are together.”

Sanchez and Associates representatives said the developments’ close proximity was almost unavoidable. The ICP suit requires the affordable housing be developed in specific census tracts west of U.S. 75, and there is a limited amount of land zoned for multi-family housing in those areas, said Levi Wild, president of Sanchez and Associates.

Other potential areas like the U.S. Highway 380 corridor – where residents noted as a better option – has sparse infrastructure that would make such a development difficult, Wild said.

The developments’ funding structure requires GroundFloor to own the properties for 15 years and to have funds earmarked for maintenance and operation, which Wild said forces constant upkeep. Oversight from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is lending finances toward the project, will also ensure quality maintenance, he said.

“I’ve never seen such a rigorous quality control process as I’ve seen with Millennium,” said Wild, adding that typical, market-rate apartments don’t have near the amount of maintenance regulations.

City and MHA officials contend that Millennium I and II will better enable people who work in McKinney to live there – like teachers and public safety workers. Residents in opposition are concerned with the possible alternatives that have been linked to Section 8 housing: drugs and crime.

“Most of the homicides I work happen in the areas where there’s Section 8,” said Scott Sayers, a Dallas police officer who lives in McKinney. “I just think [the developments] are too close to each other.”

Roslyn Miller, MHA executive director, said people living on Section 8 vouchers are all over the city, including in the neighborhoods around Millennium I and II. In her 10 years with MHA, there’s been just one homicide in a public housing or affordable housing unit, she said.

“You’re going to get drugs in every community,” Miller said. “When it comes to murder and mishap, you’re going to get that in every community.”

With Millennium II, the city will have satisfied about 42 percent of the lawsuit’s decree. Council members expressed concern with the developments’ close proximity to each other, but said the lawsuit didn’t give MHA many more options. Councilman Roger Harris called his decision “one of the most difficult positions since I’ve been elected.”

Mayor Brian Loughmiller said that he has testified to the TDHCA about how much affordable housing McKinney has compared to surrounding cities, and that he feels like the city is already meeting that need.

The council made a motion to rescind its Feb. 4 approval and had a split vote – with Harris, Ray Ricchi and Don Day voting against – so approval of the tax credit resolution was upheld. 

For local news updates, follow Chris Beattie on Twitter

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