Developer pulls Yellow Springs affordable housing proposal following delays, backlash

St. Mary Development Corp., the developer for a proposed affordable housing project off of Dayton Street in Yellow Springs, has pulled its plans to apply for Ohio affordable housing credits.

In an email sent to members of the village council and school board Tuesday, St. Mary’s CEO Tim Bete said his organization “no longer believes the time frame is feasible” for either of the public bodies to get approval and zoning completed in time to apply for the tax credits.

“Because of this, we’ve decided to end our discussions regarding the possibility of a 2025 tax-credit application to create a 50-unit affordable apartment community in Yellow Springs,” Bete wrote. “We’re happy to reengage for a future tax-credit funding round, if a suitable site is found that has a competitive score from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.”

The organization, alongside Yellow Springs nonprofit Home Inc., had planned to seek $15 million in Ohio Low-Income Housing Tax Credits for one of two sites: the Center for Business and Education, approximately 20 acres on the northwest corner of Dayton Street and East Enon Road, or Morgan Fields, a soccer field at the southwest corner of the same intersection.

The Center for Business Education, first proposed last fall, is not zoned for residential uses, and would require the co-owners — the Village of Yellow Springs, Cresco Labs, and Antioch College — to come together to change the covenants of the property, and Morgan Fields is owned by Yellow Springs schools, currently used as soccer fields next to Yellow Springs High School and Greene County Educational Service Center.

A contentious school board meeting last week saw members of the board and Yellow Springs residents argue both for and against building housing on the school district property. The board voted 3-2 last week to approve “the exploration of the Home Inc. request to sell three acres of district property for affordable housing.” Further discussion centered on finding external funding for that exploration, as the district cannot use public funds to do it.

“I realize many of you felt that we were very close to having the details worked out for a 2025 tax-credit application, but we don’t believe we were close at all,” Bete said. “The questions and push-back we continue to see would require much more than 30 days to resolve.”

Bete also leveled criticism at the village council, saying that since he expressed concern about getting deed restrictions lifted at the Center for Business and Education in December, little to no progress had been made in the past five months.

“Last Friday, I received an email with a long list of questions, including the following: Would zoning need to happen before the application is due? What is the breakdown for Family Housing vs. Senior Housing? Is this project all rentals?” he wrote.

“If the Council truly does not know the answers to these questions, then the information we’ve shared in the past has not been read and our presentations not listened to,” Bete said. “Some might say that they are valid questions but, even if they were valid, they could have been asked by council six months ago.”

Bete also urged village leaders to continue laying the groundwork for affordable housing in the future, adding the cost of housing in Yellow Springs is in a “desperate situation,” he said.

“There is significant suffering that is growing as the Village gentrifies. I hoped I could play a small role in relieving some of that suffering. That’s at the heart of our mission. My fear is that once gentrification is complete, Yellow Springs will never return to what it once was,” he said.

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