Editorial: Camp Verde steps to front of class in addressing need for affordable housing
In two separate actions Wednesday night, Camp Verde took a big step toward solving one of the long-standing shortcomings in the Verde Valley.
With approval of both the Wee Hollow and Verde Ranch Estates subdivisions, we are hopefully closer to having some affordable housing in the Verde Valley.
The council-approved Wee Hollow will see 27 small, site-built homes built on 2.68 acres east of Main Street at 485 S. Nichols St. The emphasis here is “small” as the homes will range in size from 400 to 1,000 square feet. Think “tiny” homes minus the wheels, explained Town Manager Russ Martin.
“We’re careful in that distinction,” said Martin. “We’re calling them small homes because most people associate tiny homes being on wheels. These homes will not be on wheels.”
Also Wednesday, the town council gave the green light to the first phase of gated Verde Ranch Estates north of Finnie Flat Road and east of SR 260. The initial phase of the Verde Ranch Estates project calls for 89 manufactured homes on land that will be leased by the developer.
Combine both of these projects with the 400-unit recreational vehicle park now under construction and Camp Verde suddenly has stepped to the forefront in addressing the Verde Valley’s need for affordable housing.
“We hope that will be the case,” said Martin, who also hopes these will be the beginning of a domino syndrome of some long-awaited economic lifeblood for Camp Verde.
For Camp Verde, the town’s biggest selling point has always been the availability of developable land. That combined with a willingness to accept a different kind of thinking when it comes to development is finally providing dividends to Camp Verde.
With Wee Hollow, Martin says the diminutive nature of these dwellings makes the project unique not only to the Verde Valley, but all of Yavapai County, to his knowledge.
With Verde Ranch Estates, Martin said “our willingness to accept factory-to-ground affordability” made the town especially appealing to the developer.
“I credit our planning director, Carmen Howard, with making this happen,” said Martin. “She’s receptive to different ideas. Her approach is one of ‘Bring me a good project. Let me see it through.’”
And, as Camp Verde Economic Development Director Steve Ayers explained, this turn of good fortune for Camp Verde is the result of a combination of patience and persistence by the town.
“The larger project is the old Simonton Ranch, and before that, Harvard Homestead, that has defied development for over two decades,” said Ayers. “Originally a high-density affordable home project in 1998, it is the same thing, only different, 21 years later. I’m not sure if it is luck or persistence or necessity. Whatever it is, it is key to Camp Verde getting back on the development bus, the one that left town back during the Great Recession and has had such a hard time since finding the Camp Verde exit.”
Martin says now that the development wheel is at long last rolling in Camp Verde, the smartest thing for town officials to do is to get out of the way.
You don’t want to get in the way of the dominoes.