From the Print

Barr property housing plans dissolve

Buckeye Community Hope Foundation this week released its option to purchase the Barr property on the corner of Xenia Avenue and Limestone Street. The foundation, which partnered with Home, Inc. to build senior housing on the property, was not able to finance the project before the option expired and was forced to release it, Home, Inc. director Emily Seibel said this week. But the foundation is likely to propose another plan for a senior housing development elsewhere in the village, Buckeye foundation vice-president Roy Lowenstein wrote in an email this week.

“A lot of people have committed an inordinate amount of time and effort to honor our elders in this way,” Seibel said. “I feel like a lot of people in this community want this to happen, so we’re not going to give up.”

Buckeye foundation purchased the option on the Barr property in the spring of 2011, hoping to build a two-story 34-unit apartment building for senior residents. The $3.4 million was to be financed with federal tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. But the foundation learned in May that while the Barr proposal scored high on the application, it did not receive tax credit financing.

Friends extended its purchase offer to the end of September with an option to further extend to the end of the year. But earlier this month, a second buyer purchased a contingency option from Friends agreeing to buy the property if Buckeye did not. Friends was not in a financial position to extend the purchase offer beyond December, Friends board chair Todd Leventhal said last week. Friends is not yet ready to disclose the buyer of the contingency offer, Leventhal said.

Though there is not a surfeit of available land in the village, Home, Inc. is working with property owners to vet other potential sites for senior housing, which is the number one hurdle to continuing with the project, Seibel said this week. And Seibel admits that the organization is “highly unlikely to find as great a spot as the Barr property,” which had the closest proximity to the grocery store, the drug store, the Yellow Springs Senior Center, and other services and amenities senior residents use.

Any new project that Buckeye considers would likely be of similar size and scope as the building planned for the Barr site, Seibel said. And the developers would need to apply for tax credit funding again through OHFA, which will accept this year’s applications in February 2013.

The Barr project scored high on last year’s application because of its local support, including a $250,000 grant from the Morgan Family Foundation and a utility connection fee waiver from the Village of Yellow Springs. In an effort to improve the application score this year, Buckeye is considering a one-story building, which would be less expensive, Lowenstein said.

One disadvantage to last year’s application is the lack of population density the project would serve compared to projects in larger cities that applied, Lowenstein has said. But Seibel is still confident that the research Home, Inc. and Buckeye did to assess the village’s need for senior apartments more than justifies further pursuit of a project.

“There are more than enough seniors to fill [the apartments],” she said, citing a list of 35 villagers who in 2010 asked to be considered as potential residents.

Many people and organizations have supported the effort to build senior housing over the past seven years, according to Seibel.

“We’re extraordinarily grateful to the community and the many organizations who have worked with us and really put their hearts into this worthy cause,” she said. “We are dedicated to the vision of providing affordable housing for seniors here, and we welcome ideas from the community for additional sites.”

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