The city is targeting the property on Monegan Road for a potential affordable housing project

The City of Whitefish is taking the first steps to prepare part of its own property on Monegan Road as a location for future affordable housing development.

The city owns 88 acres, which currently houses the city park store and sewage treatment plant on the eastern edge of the city between Monegan and the Whitefish River. A site plan for the property, reviewed by the city council in 2019, envisaged several future uses for the property, including designating part of the property for residential use.

The city council recently directed city officials to take the necessary steps that could result in a housing project. The city has targeted about 8 acres in the northwest corner of the property west of the park that could be developed for affordable housing.

City manager Dana Smith, speaking with the advisors who created the city’s strategic housing plan, said the best way to tackle the housing crisis for workers is to do whatever it takes to create affordable housing for the community. The Whitefish Housing Authority also reached out to the city to inquire about available land, she noted.

“As we have seen in the past few months, there are many people in our community who see the need for affordable housing and are willing to donate significant funds to another project,” she said. “There is no question that the high land values ​​in Whitefish make it difficult to fund affordable housing projects.”

Katie Williams, board member for the Housing Authority, said land suitable for affordable housing is difficult to come by and city ownership would be ideal for the goal of providing affordable housing for workers.

“The Whitefish Housing Authority worked with the Whitefish Community Foundation to identify donors to help identify and develop a large housing estate for workers,” she said. “We worked to identify potential development plots and the eight hectares owned by the city were identified as a possible solution. We have found that land that is not too expensive, has the necessary infrastructure and can be properly zoned is hard to come by, and the land on Monegan Road can potentially tick all of those boxes. ”

The city has to measure the property and draw up a site plan, subdivide the property, update its growth policy and rededicate the property to residential property. Some of these steps would be submitted to the planning committee and city council for public hearings and votes before potentially being approved.

“This is the only urban property that has the density needed for affordable housing,” she added. “It also seems to be a location that makes sense and leaves enough room for expansion that the city needs for its operations on the rest of the property.”

Smith said if the steps are successfully completed, the property could be donated to the Whitefish Housing Authority on a contract to develop it as affordable housing.

“Funding for the actual development would come from donations and possible grants,” said Smith.

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