Cinema Court affordable housing complex celebrates grand opening
by Jeff Richards
contributing writer
Sep 27, 2012 | 2698 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local residents had the opportunity last week to tour the buildings at the new Cinema Court affordable housing development. Photo by Jeff Richards
Local residents had the opportunity last week to tour the buildings at the new Cinema Court affordable housing development. Photo by Jeff Richards
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Local officials and residents celebrated the official grand opening of Moab’s new Cinema Court affordable housing development during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 20.

“You wouldn’t have guessed it, but yes, where once there stood a drive-in movie theatre there now stands a new 60 unit multi-family apartment community built to help meet the widening gap and demand for workforce housing in the city of Moab,” said Marion Willey, executive director of Utah Non Profit Housing Corporation (UNPHC), during his introductions.

The Cinema Court complex features 15 one-bedroom units, 30 two-bedroom units, and 15 three-bedroom units. All but five are already occupied by renters, officials said. The final building had just been released for occupancy within a week of the ribbon-cutting event, according to UNPHC officials.

The project was a joint effort by the UNPHC and the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah (HASU), which serves Grand and San Juan counties, along with involvement of several other governmental entities including Moab city and Grand County.

Fremont Woodward, executive director of HASU, told the crowd that the agency “remains committed in its mission to grow with the community.”

“HASU will continue seek and structure partnerships that can bring about a variety of quality single- and multi-family housing products at various affordability price points,” Woodward said.

The project, which was several years in the making, was the result of many collaborative efforts, said Audrey Graham, vice chairwoman of the Grand County Council.

“This would not have happened without all of the partnerships and the dedication and cooperation of so many people who were involved,” she said afterward, during a guided tour of one of the few remaining vacant units.

“Cinema Court is one step in a multi-phased affordable housing plan for Grand County, so we hope to see continued improvement in housing choice for the working and retired residents who are the core of our gorgeous area,” Graham said during her prepared remarks as she acknowledged and thanked the many key county and city officials who worked on the project, along with planning and zoning commission members.

Graham also lauded several positive aspects of the project and its design, including “green” construction practices to enhance the living environment and keep utility costs down, and safer outdoor recreational areas for small children (kitchen windows face the interior courtyard while parking has been moved to the perimeter).

“Already, I love biking by and catching glimpses of kids pushing doll carriages and riding tricycles and I look forward to that sight for years to come,” Graham added in her remarks.

Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison said in his prepared remarks that Cinema Court “is a tremendous step toward meeting the goals and objectives of our Moab City/Grand County Affordable Housing Plan.”

“The hard work of local citizens, state officials, and affordable housing professionals and advocates is greatly appreciated,” Sakrison said. “Let’s join together to continue providing Moab families with access to safe, affordable places they can call home.”

Cinema Court resident Yessenia Calderon was also invited to speak during the program, and shared her own perspective.

“I was living with my mom in a small trailer before moving to Cinema Court. I was looking for a place where my daughter could have her own room and personal space,” Calderon said. “A friend recommended Cinema Court. So I applied and was excited to get the apartment. It really works for me – the rent is lower than other places and it is really beautiful. It’s almost impossible to find nice places that are not too expensive on our family budget.”

Representatives from several other cooperating agencies, financial institutions, and project partners also gave brief remarks and acknowledgements during the program, including the Utah Housing Corporation, Enterprise Community Investment, the American Express Center for Community Development, Bryan Bowen Architects, Kier Construction, the Olene Walker Housing Fund, and Wells Fargo Community Development.

Dozens of Cinema Court tenants and other members of the general public attended the event, which included a guided tour of the property and free popcorn and movie-theater style candy, in keeping with the “cinematic” theme.

The apartment complex includes indoor and outdoor amenities such as a commons area lounge, a computer learning lab, an outdoor basketball court, playgrounds and community gardens. Access to the local trails system along Pack Creek is planned in the future.

According to the UNPHC officials, funding for the $8.6 million project came from a variety of sources, including HFA and other housing loans, construction loans, community development block grants, equity from investment groups, and cash contributions.

Property management officials said rent amounts range from $212 to $676 per month and have expected monthly utilities of just $50, thanks to their energy-efficient design. Applicants must meet low-income eligibility guidelines and other requirements.

Those interested can pick up an application in person at the Cinema Court main office, 1036 Millcreek Drive, or call 435-259-2600.

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