Affordable Housing Development Project Experience and Successes

Since 1989 Thistle Communities has successfully pursued our mission to create and preserve affordable homeownership and rental opportunities. Thistle is the largest private provider of permanently affordable homes in Boulder County and has developed over 1,000 homes. We achieve our goals through our Asset Management and Real Estate Development programs.

Affordable homeownership
A family enjoys their Rosewood affordable home in Boulder

The unique challenges of providing affordable housing in Boulder County are the high cost and limited amount of developable real estate. Development is strictly regulated and must meet far-reaching community objectives. Land planning, construction quality and energy efficiencies are expensive and must be attained while ensuring the project budget is met.
Our team has recent and relevant experience in blending multiple sources of financing and has been successful due to our Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) lending relationships.  We understand the complexity of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit financing and have longstanding investor relationships.

Thistle’s mission is to provide affordable housing in a high cost area and we are committed to assisting working families the opportunity to live in Boulder County.  Variety in housing creates economic diversity and keeps our economy strong, and the high quality of life and educational attainment possible for all citizens.

Significant Development Projects

Corwood Square — 80 apartments in seven buildings

From left: Pinewood, Valmont Square, Correll Apartments, in the process of being renovated

Project summary: Thistle is investing $7M in construction in 80 apartments in three different apartment communities in Boulder: Correll Apartments (21 units), Pinewood Apartments (23 units) and Valmont Square (36 units). All properties are presently owned by Thistle, and will transition to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Thistle staff is working with PEH Architects to achieve meaningful improvements to the building envelope, systems and livability, to preserve these apartments for the long term.

History: Thistle refinanced the properties on September 30, 2017.  We are using Low Income Housing Tax Credits to renovate and modernize the properties.

Unique challenge, descriptions: Apartment buildings date from 1948, 1957, 1964 and 1983. The properties are antiquated and in desperate need of modernization due to their age.

Project schedules and budget: Total budget is $27M, project began on Oct. 23, 2017 and is expected to conclude in November 2018.

1200 Kimbark Apartments—48 apartments in four buildings

After the $7.8M renovation at Kimbark Apartments in Longmont

Project summary:  The Kimbark property has 42 three-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartment homes which provide much-needed housing for working families who earn less than 50% AMI in Longmont ($42,700 for a family of three).

History: In December 2014, Thistle acquired this 48-unit, four-building, multi-family apartment complex in Longmont at 1200 Kimbark.

Unique challenge, descriptions: No public subsidy was used in the acquisition or redevelopment of the property. The complex had numerous deferred maintenance issues as well as high criminal activity due to uninvolved management.
After purchase, Thistle utilized Low Income Housing Tax Credits to renovate the property.  Because of LIHTC regulations, all residents had to reapply to Thistle and be recertified. In addition, the property was enrolled in the Crime Free Multi Housing program, a nationally known initiative proven to reduce crime at rental properties.

Children enjoying the playground at Kimbark Apartments

Residents are required to have background and credit checks and each household signs to a “No Tolerance for Criminal Activities” addendum. Calls for service decreased from 10 per month to three per month, according to our Crime Free liaison officer at the Longmont Police Department.

Project schedules and budget: Project was completed on schedule; total cost of $7.8M.


1000 Rosewood—18 For Sale Homes

Deed Restricted Affordable homes
Looking south on 9th Street

Project summary: 1000 Rosewood is a mixed-income neighborhood of nine affordable and nine market rate homes in north Boulder designed by Coburn Development and developed with Allison Management. These 18 ownership homes feature two- to four-bedroom units, 1000 to 2000 square feet and one-car garages.

History: Beginning in 2011 Thistle created a unique public-private partnership with Allison Management. Together we developed and sold 51 mixed-income homes in three different infill Boulder communities: Toby’s Lane, Yarmouth Way and Rosewood. Twenty-four are permanently affordable to low- and moderate-income owners via City of Boulder deed restriction.

Affordable homeownership
Site plan for 18 homes

Unique challenge, descriptions, concept: The 1000 Rosewood project was designed for working families who work and live in Boulder. The property needed to be annexed in the City of Boulder and go through the site review process before construction could begin. The project uniquely offered 50% affordable and 50% market rate for-sale ownership homes.

Project schedules and budget: Annexation of the 2.3-acre property into the City of Boulder occurred in Spring 2012. Construction began in Fall 2012 and was completed in Fall 2013. Project was on time and on budget at $6.5M.

Yarmouth Way—25 For Sale Homes

A family strolling along the woonerf, Yarmouth Way

Project summary: Yarmouth Way is a mixed-income homeownership community in North Boulder consisting of 10 affordable and 15 market rate homes developed by the Thistle-Allison partnership in 2011. The development won the Urban Land Institutes 2013 Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Award for its affordability, replicability, partnerships and innovation. Given the demand for workforce housing, the neighborhood features two and three-bedroom townhomes and single-family homes with garages.

History: Thistle and Allison Management purchased this entitled, in-fill parcel of 1.82 acres in 2009 from Clinica Campesina, a local health provider.

Affordable home ownership
Mixed-income ownership homes at Yarmouth Way

Unique challenge, descriptions: The majority of the homes are laid out along a woonerf, an arbored lane where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over motorists. The techniques of shared spaces, traffic calming, and low speed limits are utilized in this design to improve the interaction of pedestrian, bicycle and automobile uses. This arbored lane fronts the homes and offers private, multi-modal access.

Project schedules and budget:  The project completed construction in mid-May, approximately four months ahead of original schedule. Project was on budget. Total cost $6.6M. Yarmouth Way was developed with private financing and no public subsidy.

Toby’s Lane—8 For Sale Homes

Toby’s Lane LEED Gold Certified homes

Project summary: Toby’s Lane is an infill development of eight homes in east Boulder, five affordable and three market rate. All eight homes in the development received the LEED Gold Certification for achievement in green building.

History: Thistle purchased this one-acre site in 2009 with a grant from the City of Boulder and a gift from the seller.



Modular construction
Modular units were trucked to the site and stacked by cranes.

Unique challenge, descriptions: The development was modular designed and built, constructed in the factory and delivered on-site.  Designed as energy-efficient workforce housing, Toby’s Lane homes feature three bedrooms and three baths, one car garages, a community garden and gazebo. All homes front on Toby’s Lane with front porches that facilitate community interaction.

Project schedules and budget: Due to unanticipated delays in City of Boulder permitting process, construction was five months behind schedule. Project was on budget; total cost was $2.4M.