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Details of low-income housing proposal challenged by nearby neighbors and businesses

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

Plans for a new low-income housing development, in Colorado Springs, are already being met with resistance from nearby neighbors and businesses.

Greccio Housing is looking to transform the piece of property, at the corner of Austin Bluffs and Templeton Gap into 50 affordable housing units--specifically for seniors.

"Senior citizens need help.  They need good housing," said James Meredith, who lives in the neighboring Saddleback Heights area.

He says it's the right idea--just not the right location.

"Templeton Gap--you can't expand it.  And this is a very busy intersection behind me," he said, referring to Templeton Gap and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

"And I don't see that as in the best interest for senior citizens walking around in this area," he added.

"It will be difficult because there are just commercial properties that really don't have the available parking spaces for people that are visiting or certainly for the residents," said Lisa Gerleman, who owns Polo Springs Veterinary Hospital.

Gerleman, and other nearby business owners, say they don't plan on giving up any of their parking spaces.

But her bigger issue is where seniors--or their guests--will try to park instead.

"I have great concerns that those senior residents will be crossing a very busy intersection--Austin Bluffs Parkway--to park across the street in a residential neighborhood," Gerleman told News5.

This week, neighbors asked News5 why Greccio was given the property (for $1), instead of having to go through a competitive bidding process.

So we took their questions to the city.

"If they were going to sell the property and there was no public purpose attached to it, there would be a different process where the property is advertised for sale," explained Steve Posey, who is the city HUD Program Administrator.

The property was donated to the city in 2012, and designated for non-profit use.

In 2015, the city could have sold it--but decided to continue searching for a public use for the land instead.

Posey says the property was deemed a "surplus," meaning each department had the chance to present a development proposal--to be voted on, and approved, by city council.

"The city has what's called its real estate manual.  The process we went through for this particular property is exactly in line with that real estate manual," he told News5.

Posey says, simply put, his proposal identified an important need in the community-- and felt Greccio Housing was the best non-profit to oversee the project.

Even though the city has signed off on this proposal, it is in its very early stages.

Greccio Housing is still in what's called the Entitlement Process--which comes before things like traffic and environmental studies, as well as community meetings.

We will continue to track this story and bring you updates.

Download the KOAA News 5 App iOS/iPhone here and for Android here.

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