Why do multifamily housing projects fail in Bend? Financing? City or state regulations?

The city of Bend is going to circulate a survey — likely kicking off Monday — to find out. It’s another in a long series of the city’s good efforts to try to create more housing in Bend. The new Bend City Council has a goal of permitting 3,000 new units by June 30, 2021.

The survey is not going to be a scientific poll. But the city is hoping to get as many responses as it can from developers to help inform the debate over what might need to be changed to create more housing in Bend.

The city is specifically looking to drill down on multifamily projects of three or more units that developers have worked on “in the past 24 months, which failed to move forward,” Ben Hemson, the city’s business advocate, told us in an email. “We’re asking about city related barriers to development as well as broader challenges (lease rates, land costs, etc.). I’m working on spreading the net wide enough to get feedback from folks that are adjacent to developers, including architects, engineers, transportation planners, etc.”

Hemson told us when the city was researching this issue, it found that some 85% to 90% of all projects that get to a pre-application meeting with the city end with permits. What is stopping the others?

Look across the country, and the answer has been found to be what you might expect: financing, fees and regulations. Coming up with the money is where the market can falter of fail, particularly with housing aimed at being affordable. That’s why so many federal and state programs try to channel money at the problem. But zoning and fees can just as easily be impediments, as well.

So if you are a developer, architect, engineer and so on who has worked on multifamily projects that did not move ahead in Bend, tell the city why. Email Hemson at bhemson@bendoregon.gov to get a copy of the survey.

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