$7M housing complex proposed for former hospital site in Springfield

The vacant former Community Hospital site could be home to a $7 million housing complex for seniors.

The Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield is seeking $250,000 in federal HOME money and tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for the project at High Street and Burnett Road.

It could include two phases, for up to 80 affordable rental units for seniors in a “pocket neighborhood” design.

“It is a unique and exciting development at the former hospital site,” said Shannon Meadows, director of Springfield’s Community Development Department.

If the project is approved by the housing finance agency this summer, construction could start in the spring of 2016, NHP Executive Director Tina Koumoutsos said.

HOME funds are provided by the federal government and distributed by the city of Springfield to invest in housing in the community, Meadows said. City commissioners Tuesday discussed endorsing the project’s housing finance agency application.

The three main sources of equity will come from the Federal Home Loan Bank, NeighborWorks America and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

The development will feature a “pocket neighborhood” design that incorporates smaller neighborhoods of eight to twelve homes and green space within the larger complex to promote more social interaction.

These designs are popping up around the country for baby boomers, Koumoutsos said, and is what market research shows that seniors want.

“You feel like you are part of a neighborhood and you get to know one or another,” she said.

Neighborhood Housing Partnership has already developed a senior housing complex with 12 units on Drexel Avenue and it has a 70-person waiting list.

The project is made up of two phases and the first will include building 40 units. If successful, there are plans to develop another 40 units at the 11.5-acre former hospital site, Koumoutsos said.

Each unit will include an attached garage and be fully accessible with no steps.

The project will have a “green” certification and will embrace alternative energy sources, which she said should make them more affordable for residents.

Community Mercy Health Partners President Paul Hiltz said he is excited to see plans to develop the former hospital location.

“We hoped we would have somebody find a use for it that would be good for the community at large,” Hiltz said. “This is a local partnership. It is market based. There is a need for seniors and we think this is going to be a high quality development.”

The hospital plans to sell the site for about $100,000 to the neighborhood partnership this summer.

Community Mercy has discussed putting a primary care physician either within the development or nearby.

“We like the notion of having a patient-centered medical home near this project so people can get care near where they live,” Hiltz said.

An on-site heath care facility would be a great resource for the seniors in the development, Koumoutsos said, and benefit the community as well.

“When care and services are available, people use the emergency room a lot less,” she said.

Nearby business owners said they are excited to see plans to develop the area that has been largely unoccupied since the hospital shut down in 2011 in order to move into the new, downtown Springfield Regional Medical Center.

“Anything going in there, instead of just having a vacant and empty area, would help the neighborhood,” said Karen Coblentz, who owns a nearby Curves.

She is excited for more potential customers.

“That would be fantastic, because everybody knows the older your body gets, the harder you have to work to keep it,” she said.

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