A private, non-profit real estate company created in 1989, Thistle has created over 1,000 affordable homes and annually provides housing for over 1,700 residents and responds to over 2,000 requests for information and services.
At Thistle we are moving full speed ahead with several innovative partnerships and projects. One is a collaboration with Open Arts, which brings visual art events and educational programming to the public throughout the year. On August 14, 2015, kids of all ages enjoyed an afternoon of play and art exploration at Fairways Apartments (right). We are thrilled to announce that our next art project will be a mural at the Fairways Apartments Courtyard this fall. We thank Open Arts for this opportunity and are looking forward to it.
Another initiative which has begun to show results is our partnership with Attention Homes, a Boulder non-profit dedicated to providing services to at-risk and homeless youths for the last 40 years. We have formalized our relationship with an MOU and two of our apartments are now homes for their clients. Shown left, Angelina and Najaah are chilling after work at their apartment. They are saving for a car and their plans for the summer are "working, paying bills and being adult-like." Visit attentionhomes.org for more program information.
And, the 69-unit Lumine Apartment complex in Boulder (shown below) is fully leased! Our new residents include employees of BVSD, King Soopers and CU Boulder, managers for local businesses such as Mad Greens and Crist Mortuary, a chiropractor, a nanny and numerous self-employed. The Lumine and Ledges apartment complexes have added 130 new affordable apartments to Boulder's housing stock over the past year. Thistle and our partners are making a difference by housing Boulder's diverse workforce, so people can live where they work and work where they live.
Sage Court Receives Significant City of Boulder Investment
Sage Court, built in 1989 and containing 19 units for people with disabilities, has been totally renovated as of October 2015. Cabinets, flooring, air conditioners, tubs, sinks were replaced while residents were temporarily relocated to a local hotel. Long time residents John and Shelley Couch (shown) are looking forward to a brand new home.
For making this process as smooth as possible, we thank Judith Houlding of Space Editing (Space-Editing)for numerous volunteer hours organizing and moving support for our residents with various disabilities and for recruiting other volunteer professional organizers through National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Colorado. Counseling support has been provided by Naropa's Graduate School of Psychology interns, coordinated by Joy Redstone. We greatly appreciate the help of Flatirons Moving and Storage, Homewood Suites and Residence Inn, Asset Preservation Group and PEH Architects.
Thanks to the City of Boulder Division of Housing's investment of $762,500 to complete Sage Court's interior renovation (plus an additional $300K from the City and NeighborWorks for the exterior work completed in 2014), the residents will have comfortable, long term apartments to call home.
Yarmouth Way Receives ULI Kemp Award
The 4655 Partnership of Allison Management and Thistle Communities is honored to announce that we havereceived the Urban Land Institute's 2013 Jack KempWorkforce Housing Models of Excellence Award. We are pleased and proud to receive this extremely competitive national award for our Yarmouth Way development in Boulder, Colorado. Accepting the award are Andy Allison, Mary Duvall and Dan Rotner (architect).
The Jack Kemp Awards, named in memory of former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary and ULI Terwilliger Center national advisory board member, Jack Kemp, are given to workforce housing developments that represent outstanding achievements in several areas, including affordability, innovative financing and building technologies, proximity to employment centers and transportation hubs, quality of design, involvement of public-private partnerships, and replicability of the development, among other criteria.
According to ULI Terwilliger Center Executive Director, Lynn M. Ross, this year’s Kemp Award winners illustrate the importance of expanding workforce housing options in locations that are well-served by transit and near major employment centers. “The attention to architectural detail, environmental considerations, and site design demonstrate that pursuing affordability doesn’t mean sacrificing quality,” she added.
Yarmouth Way is a mixed-income residential development with 25 single-family units on 1.82 acres—located in a city with one of the highest housing costs per capita in the United States. Positioned at the southern end of the Holiday Neighborhood, the project was developed by 4655 Yarmouth, LLC, a partnership between Thistle Communities, a nonprofit developer, and Allison Management, a for-profit developer. Yarmouth Way offers three- and four-bedroom family-oriented workforce units in a city where most permanently affordable units are only one- or two-bedrooms. Ten of the townhomes and single-family homes at Yarmouth Way are affordable to families earning between 69 to 109 percent of the area median income (AMI). Yarmouth’s unique site design includes a central laneway that offers a common gathering space for residents and encourages neighborly interaction. Yarmouth Way demonstrates what can be accomplished when resourceful public-private partnerships cooperate to meet civic goals.
1000 Rosewood Completed!
Thistle's new neighborhood in North Boulder, 1000 Rosewood, has completed construction and all homes are sold. Now, 18 new households are able to live and work in Boulder. Nine of these homes are deed restricted and are permanently affordable.
More Workers Calling Boulder Home
While the Boulder real estate market has not seen a significant reduction in the median home price, opportunities do exist for people with moderate incomes to live, work and own their own homes in the city. Teachers, retail employees, non-profit administrators and university staff, the backbone of our workforce, are the purchasers of new homes developed by Thistle Communities.
Thistle’s new developments are typically different than others in Boulder because our focus is on family friendly homes; the market rate homes are the lowest priced new construction in the market and the deed-restricted affordable homes are large enough to accommodate a household with several members. Home buyers are looking for neighborhoods where their children can ride bikes and play with others as well as properties they can afford. The demand remains high for these types of homes.
Whether market rate or affordable, buying your first home is exciting and scary. Carlyn, an English teacher at a local Boulder high school and single mother to two kids, made significant adjustments in her financial situation before qualifying under City of Boulder guidelines to buy a home. Once approved, the next step of finding a house that was affordable and comfortable took some time. Her search resulted in the purchase of a permanently affordable three-bedroom townhome with a garage in Thistle’s Yarmouth Way community. (See photo, left)
“I needed a three bedroom because of the kids,” she said. “I decided I’m going to get my kids a home.” Though sometimes she doubted it was possible, Carlyn was the first in her family to buy a home, graduate from college and get a Masters degree. Her mom was a single mother, had never owned a home and lived a gypsy life. Carlyn’s mother helped take care of the kids when Carlyn moved to Colorado to go to school. Carlyn, looking forward to the stability of owning her home, said, “Now my son will be able to graduate from Boulder High and my daughter can ride her bike in the neighborhood with other kids.”
Yarmouth Way in North Boulder hosts 25 homes, ten of which are affordable and 15 are market rate. The entire development was built and sold out within one year. A school teacher in Boulder like Carlyn who earns a respectable income cannot buy a median-priced Boulder home at $525,000 but could qualify to purchase a home priced at $208,000 to $237,300 at Yarmouth Way.
Toby's Lane Sets the Standard
Toby’s Lane homes, located near 55th and Arapahoe, are the only homes built in Boulder to receive the Leed Gold certification for achievement in green homebuilding. LEED for Homes (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a third-party certification system for building and designing high-performance green homes which was developed and is administered by US Green Building Council.
Toby’s Lane homes are designed with features such as tankless water heaters, 90% efficient furnaces, double hung (Low-E) vinyl windows, state-of-the-art Icynene®foam and fiberglass batt insulation in the ceilings and walls. Additionally, all the homes are solar ready, with the necessary conduit for solar panels installed on the roof. Three homes already have 2.1 kW solar systems installed and functioning.
As well as being energy efficient, five of the eight homes at Toby’s Lane are permanently affordable through the City of Boulder’s deed-restricted program. Homeowners include two university employees, two government employees, and a non-profit director. Forty percent (two out of five) of the new affordable homeowners were Thistle renters before buying a home at Toby’s Lane.
Said Mary Duvall, Thistle CEO, “Working families with incomes of 70-110 percent of the Area Median Income ($53,750 to $88,770 for a family of three in 2012) now have the choice to live and work in Boulder. Our market rate homes at Toby’s Lane were the lowest-priced new construction in the City of Boulder and our next development at Yarmouth Way will feature the same pricing. Fifteen of the 25 homes at Yarmouth Way will be market rate.”
The Mission of Thistle Communities is to create, manage and preserve quality, permanently affordable homes for working families, seniors and people with disabilities.
A charitable non-profit, Thistle was created in 1989 to meet the need for affordable and accessible rental housing, serving 24 people with disabilities. Thistle expanded its mission to provide workforce rental housing, then became a developer in 1993. In 1996 homeowners purchased their first Community Land Trust homes. Thistle is now the largest private provider of permanently affordable homes in Boulder County. Since its founding, Thistle has created over 1,000 affordable homes, providing quality housing for over 3,000 residents and responding to over 4,000 requests for information and services annually.
Blue Vista received the 2007 Sustainability Award for Advancing Green Design and Planning from the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association; and the 2008 Green Development of the Year Award from the National Association of Home Builders
Derrick Robinson, President, Robinson Capital Management
Mary Duvall, Chief Executive Officer
Boulder County Housing Authority
Boulder Housing Partners
City of Boulder Division of Housing
City of Longmont
Elevations Credit Union
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non-Violence
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless
Colorado Division of Housing
Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
Center for People With Disabilities
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