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After 6 years of development, the City of Las Vegas finally opened an affordable housing complex downtown Wednesday. KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports.
CROWD: One two and three yeah!
PLASKON: City officials and the mayor's wife snipped the ribbon in front of a new 51 unit apartment complex at 801 South Las Vegas Blvd. It's called L'Octaine, a gated, tan-colored, modern looking building. Its officially affordable housing and the residents say convenient.
ALVAREZ: I can walk to work and I also help run a small art gallery. So everything is within walking distance. I don't have to commute, I will not just save on time and gas.
PLASKON: One of the new tenants is city employee Brian Alvarez. He's been living with his parents in the Las Vegas valley until he moved into an apartment here a week and a half ago.
ALVAREZ: I have lived in the same house for 20 years and there was nothing comparable to this, it is affordable which is all I could afford so it is perfect.
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PLASKON: He pays 690 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. State-regulated rents range from 461 to 796 dollars a month. The only driving Alvarez says he will have to do is to find a supermarket where he can buy food. But a restaurant is planned on the downstairs floor of the complex. He says new downtown residents will need to bring an attitude too.
ALVAREZ: A little bit of street smarts, my mom lives in NY city so it is no different than any other big city.
LYON: You can get a lot of square footage for the money but the view is quite poor, the neighborhood, I don't like it.
PLASKON: Rocky Lyon says he has street smarts. He works in the bail bondsman's office across the street from the complex. He was going to live in the affordable apartments as well but became discouraged.
LYON: The room that I like the most I had a view of a trash can and a bum and I didn't like that and so I took my security deposit back.
PLASKON: So he still lives with his parents like Alvarez used to and plans on moving into other nearby apartments with a better view. The bail bond's manager George Hernandez says the area isn't so bad.
HERNANDEZ: A lot of people think that because it is downtown it is bad, but we have so much Metro, metro is always going by.
PLASKON: City officials billed L'Octaine as a success story, but the General Partner Scott Brown says he never would have done it if he knew it was going to take 6 years to develop.
BROWN: No, no that would be too much time to dedicate if we knew then what we knew now.
PLASKON: Councilman Lawrence Weekly says it is twice as hard to develop affordable housing projects as condominiums because of federal and state tax credit applications. But this project took even longer because L'Octaine had trouble getting financing Weekly said. He says there is one way to make sure the apartments won't turn into a slum.
WEEKLY: We continue to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that they have good on-site management.
PLASKON: He says the city really doesn't have any control over how the company manages the property. But he has confidence that the city doesn't need regulatory authority, just to maintain it's good relationships with L'Octaine Limited Partnership.
Ky Plaskon, News 88-9 KNPR