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$4M upgrade on tap for Springfield units

Tax credits, $200,000 federal loan sought to renovate 99-units at Tubman Towers.

A 99-unit senior living facility on Springfield’s south side is seeking tax credits for a $4 million renovation.

Lutheran Social Services also has asked for $200,000 in federal HOME loan funds from the city for the work at Tubman Towers, 17 W. Johnson Ave.

Last year 37 developments statewide received $29 million in federal housing tax credits to serve low- to moderate-income families, seniors and disabled individuals. The recipients typically are announced in spring or early summer.

The Tubman Towers renovation will allow for all 32 studio apartments in the four-story building to be renovated into one bedroom apartments. The remaining 67 apartments will be modernized with new paint, carpet, cabinetry, counter tops, a second elevator and other amenities.

“It’s an older building and we want to get it up-to-date to compete with other facilities in Springfield,” manager Nina Shelton said.

Lutheran Social Services applied last year for the tax credits but barely missed out. It plans to re-apply to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency this year, with hopes of beginning work this spring.

Rick Davis, vice president of operations for Lutheran Social Services, said it took ownership of the building 10 years ago.

“We’ve done as much as we really can with this 41-year-old building,” Davis said. “We’re to the point that we really need to get serious about doing as much as we can to provide a comfortable living environment for our residents. There’s a lot more we can do if we’re successful with the tax credit application.”

Springfield city commissioners approved Tuesday an emergency ordinance supporting the project and agreed to provide the HOME loan funds.

Residents are excited about the possible renovations.

“It’s wonderful living here, but it just needs updated,” said Estelle Grimes, who has lived in Tubman Towers for 10 years.

The building currently has about 90 residents, but just one elevator. Davis said a second elevator will be added as part of the renovation.

“It’s necessary from the standpoint of having an elevator which is large enough for emergency crews to get in and out with gurneys,” Davis said. “Local emergency crews have done great with what we have, but adding a second elevator is pretty significant.”

The second elevator is sorely needed, residents said. The current elevator was renovated four years ago.

“I’d like to see one to help us move furniture and ride in the other,” said Willa Mae Cromer, a 28-year resident of Tubman Towers.

“We need it for medical purposes, too,” said resident Bruce Taylor.

The 400-square-foot community room will be updated into a larger, 2,40o-square-foot space. Residents say the current community room isn’t big enough to support their many activities, including potlucks.

“That’s the size it really needs to be to have meaningful meetings with all of our residents,” Davis said.

The exterior of the building will also be renovated with new windows and a new roof. They also plan to increase laundry areas in the building.

“It’s not good for the capacity of people who live here,” Grimes said.

Cromer said if one washer or dryer breaks down on the weekend, residents typically have to wait until repairs are made on Monday.

During the renovations, Davis said, residents will be temporarily relocated to vacant apartments and will be moved back once their rooms are completed. They’re also working with a relocation company to assist residents with moving during the renovations.

Mayor Warren Copeland is happy to see reinvestment in the south side complex, rather than moving it elsewhere. Lutheran Social Services kept the building from closing 10 years ago, he said, and will now make it “significantly functional” with the improvements.

“Getting it in shape is a good idea and it makes sense to improve what’s there, rather than build something else,” Copeland said.

The location is great, Grimes said, because it’s centrally located to the south side shopping area.

If the tax credits are awarded, residents such as Beverly Johnson said the changes will enhance an already great place to live.

“We’re praying we get them,” she said.

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