Construction of a long-planned $9.3 million senior housing development at the former Community Hospital site has been delayed two months due to issues with state tax credits.
The Community Gardens senior apartments — an 86-unit affordable senior housing development planned on the 11.5-acre site at the corner of High Street and Burnett Road — now likely won’t be open until 2018, said Tina Koumoutsos, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield, one of the site’s developers.
The first phase of 50 apartments was originally expected to begin in April. However with the uncertainty of tax reform after last year’s presidential elections, Koumoutsos said investors have pulled out of their agreements or have dramatically decreased what they’re willing to pay for tax credits. The sale of tax credits provide equity to the project, she said.
NHP was recently awarded an additional 15 percent of tax credit equity from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for the project, Koumoutsos said.
“It’s huge,” she said. “It allows our project to move forward.”
Springfield city commissioners approved Tuesday a 12-year, 50-percent property tax abatement for the site in the new Burnett Road Community Reinvestment Area. It will result in $834,000 in savings in property taxes during that period based on an improved value of $5.4 million, Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck said.
The numbers are difficult to predict because it’s unclear what the Clark County Auditor will appraise the property once its completed, he said.
“The project is a great win for the community,” Heck said.
The city wants to see redevelopment at both hospital sites, including the former Mercy Medical Center on North Fountain Boulevard, which was demolished last year. The abatement was the first for the Burnett Road area, which was created in 2015 after the Community Hospital demolition was completed.
“We believe putting the CRA program in place for that area will help toward that redevelopment,” Heck said.
The organization was grateful to receive the tax abatement because it will allow NHP to keep rents down for local seniors, Koumoutsos said.
“It helps us control our operating expenses,” Koumoutsos said.
NHP expecting to close and begin construction in June, she said.
“The political realities have really delayed things, but it won’t stop it,” Koumoutsos said. “It will go forward and the equity is in place.”
OHFA had rejected an application for Community Gardens last July, but re-evaluated the application and two weeks later opted to provide tax credits to NHP.
NHP and co-developer Buckeye Community Hope Foundation will receive about $8 million up front and tax credits will then be sold to investors totaling $800,000 over the next 10 years.
The complex at the corner of Burnett Road and East High Street will eventually have 86 rental units for people ages 55 and older. The “pocket neighborhood” will include smaller clusters of eight to 12 homes and green space within the larger complex. The energy-efficient, green units will also include an attached garage and will be fully accessible with no steps for seniors.
“It’s really designed to be pedestrian friendly and create interconnectedness among seniors,” Koumoutsos said.
The city also supported the senior housing development with $250,000 in federal housing money and a letter of support from city commissioners.
Demolition of the former Community Hospital began in 2013. The land was owned by Community Mercy Health Partners, but was later sold to NHP for $100,000.
The development already has a waiting list of about 200 people, Koumoutsos said. NHP is expected to apply for more tax credits next year for a second phase of 36 units, she said.
Neighborhood Housing Partnership also developed the $1.8 million City View Apartments, a senior housing complex with 12 units on Drexel Avenue.
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By the numbers
$9.3 million: Cost of the proposed 86-unit senior living development at the former Community Hospital site.
$8 million: Amount of tax credit money awarded by the state to Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield.
11.5: Acres at the former hospital site.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has kept you informed about the future of the former Community Hospital site since it was first announced that the hospital would be closed in 2011.