Nov 3, 2023 - News

Developer scales back Chandler affordable housing project

Illustration of a gold key with the "no" symbol replacing the top of the key.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A proposal to bring workforce housing to the Chandler area faced such harsh public pushback last year that the developer has shifted plans.

State of play: Dominium senior vice president Owen Metz tells Axios Phoenix it rescinded its original application for 518 affordable apartments near Arizona Avenue and Ocotillo Road and is instead proposing 282 subsidized senior housing units, with industrial development on the rest of the 25-acre site.

Why it matters: Metro Phoenix is facing an extreme housing shortage that's priced out many working-class families. But attempts to build housing that's affordable is often met with this kind of pushback from surrounding neighborhoods.

Flashback: In December, the Chandler City Council voted unanimously on a resolution opposing the complex, saying the city's general plan calls for the land to be redeveloped into an employment center and raising concerns about the availability of water.

  • The decision came at the request of hundreds of people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Some said they feared the increased density would lead to traffic issues. Others raised objections to the type of people and the potential for crime that an affordable housing project could bring.

Reality check: The original proposal would have had rents ranging from about $1,000 to $1,700 a month and catered to people making 80% of the area median income — about $50,000 per year for a single person.

The latest: Dominium's new plan aims to address the biggest community concerns, Metz says.

  • By decreasing the unit total by almost half and restricting the project to seniors, the company hopes to minimize traffic qualms.
  • The industrial buildings it plans to build on the northern half of the site align with the city and county's development plans for the area, Metz says.

The intrigue: Dominium commissioned a poll of likely Chandler voters after it decided to scrap its initial project.

  • 62% of people polled said seniors need more affordable options in Chandler and 77% said rent in the city is too high.

What they're saying: "There's a quiet majority that understands there's a housing shortage in Chandler and that rents and costs of housing are too high," Metz says.

What's next: The proposed complex is on a county island adjacent to Chandler, so the county board of supervisors will have final say on the project.

  • Metz says Dominium plans to host a neighborhood meeting to share details about the new proposal with residents this month. Public hearings before the county will likely begin early next year.

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