The latest iteration of an ongoing effort by the Mayor and Council to support affordable housing in Rockville centers on the possibility that Rockville Housing Enterprises (RHE), the city’s housing authority that manages low- and moderate-income housing programs and properties in the city, might buy the Fireside Park Apartments, a 236-unit complex in the Hungerford neighborhood of Rockville. RHE seeks to acquire the property to preserve it as rental housing that is affordable to households with a mix of household incomes.
RHE has asked the City of Rockville for $2 million in loans and grants toward the purchase of the apartment complex. The Mayor and Council approved this request on Nov. 5. RHE plans to complete the purchase by the end of the year.
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Here is a brief timeline that provides background on the issue to date:
- April 2012: Fireside Park Apartments goes on the market for sale
- May 2012: Rockville Housing Enterprises (RHE) meets with Montgomery County’s Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the Housing Opportunity Commission and expresses interest in purchasing the Fireside Park Apartments; the entities began working together on a preliminary feasibility analysis for a possible purchase
- July 6, 2012: County notifies City of Rockville that Fireside’s current owner submitted the Right of First Refusal package to the County as required by law; RHE board begins analyzing the feasibility of purchasing Fireside
- Aug. 6, 2012: Rockville’s planning staff presents an item to the Mayor & Council that recommends approval of a resolution authorizing RHE to purchase Fireside Park Apartments through the County’s Right of First Refusal; Mayor & Council unanimously pass Resolution 14-12, which allows RHE to pursue the potential purchase of the 236-unit property to maintain it as mixed-income rental housing with market-rate units and units affordable to moderate-income families
- Sept. 10, 2012: Rockville’s planning staff presents an item with a resolution to amend Resolution 14-12 with a technical correction to the original resolution to approve the exercise of the Right of First Refusal by Montgomery County; planning staff also present RHE’s two requests for assistance from the city -- that the city act as the guarantor on RHE's mortgage loan to purchase the property, and that the city loan RHE $2-million toward the purchase of the property; Mayor & Council decide to continue discussion at their Sept. 24 meeting
- Sept. 14, 2012: Rockville’s interim city manager notifies the Mayor & Council that RHE no longer needs the City to act as the guarantor on the purchase of Fireside, because the lender determined RHE was fiscally capable of guaranteeing the mortgage loan for the purchase itself
- Sept. 24, 2012: The Mayor & Council hear an updated presentation from RHE on the details of their plans for purchasing and operating Fireside Park Apartments, and discuss the agenda item on whether the city can commit $1.5 million from its current fiscal year 2013 budget or other sources and $500,000 from the Housing Opportunities Fund to loan/grant to RHE for the purchase. RHE provides an information sheet as well. The Mayor and Council also identify any outstanding questions or information needed.
- Oct. 8, 2012: The Mayor and Council host a public hearing on the City’s consideration of a loan to RHE to help buy Fireside Park Apartments, and hear from more than 30 members of the public. The public record closed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15. The public hearing agenda item, including the attachments, provides a detailed update. City planners also gave a presentation on the proposal.
- Oct. 22, 2012: The Mayor and Council heard a briefing on the local rental housing market from Montgomery County's Department of Housing and Community Affairs. They also heard from city staff on the city's existing affordable housing inventory, and then held a worksession on the proposal from RHE. The agenda item, a presentation, and a proposal from a third party (Priderock) interested in buying the property provided additional details.
- Oct. 29, 2012: The meeting of the Mayor and Council is canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.
- Nov. 5, 2012: The Mayor and Council discuss the issue and vote to approve RHE's acquisition of Fireside and to loan and grant $2 million for the purchase. The agenda contains an update from city staff on the proposal.