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Village Council— Barr restructuring plan OKd

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At their Feb. 21 meeting, Village Council members unanimously passed two resolutions that authorize a restructuring of financial support for the proposed Home Inc./Buckeye Community Hope Foundation senior affordable housing project.

“I want to make it clear that we’re not asking for more money,” said Home, Inc. Executive Director Emily Seibel. “We’re asking for a restructuring of the financial commitments already in place to increase Village involvement in the permanent financing of the project.”

The project, to be located on the Barr property downtown, would provide 34 housing units for seniors, with most for those making 60 percent of the area median income or less. While Home, Inc. is the local sponsor, the Buckeye Foundation would finance the project with federal tax credits if the project is selected through a competitive process of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, or OHFA.

Previously, the Village had committed to supporting the project by waiving utility tap-in fees, a donation valued at about $19,645. And recently the local Morgan Family Foundation announced a grant of $250,000 to the project in order to include four market-rate apartments.

The resolutions passed Tuesday night reconfigure those donations. One resolution authorizes the Village to make a direct contribution to the project of the $19,645 value of the utility fees, with the understanding that the project developers will later pay for tap-ins. The other resolution authorizes the Village to receive the $250,000 Morgan Family Foundation donation in order for the Village to then donate the amount as a development subsidy for the project.

The financial restructuring is necessary to strengthen the project in the highly competitive process of awarding tax credits, according to Seibel. Last week Home, Inc. learned the project’s preliminary score in the OHFA process, while strong in several categories, was weak in the category of local support, partly because OHFA did not accept the utility fee waiver as a contribution to the project. Home, Inc. plans to meet with the OHFA staff next week to defend its application, and the restructuring seemed the best way to beef up evidence of municipal support.

The Morgan Foundation supports the restructuring, according to a letter from Foundation Executive Director Lori Kuhn, who also stated that Home, Inc. would be responsible for all grant reporting, minimizing the Village’s administrative role.

If the project is funded by OHFA, it will meet a local need for more affordable housing, as recognized in the Village Comprehensive Plan and the recent visioning project, and will also contribute about $25,000 a year in property taxes for the Village and school system, according to Seibel.

Project organizers have been able to re-structure the project’s financing quickly due to the cooperation of both the Morgan Foundation staff and Village staff, according to Seibel.

“In my opinion, this kind of quick responsiveness sends a positive message to anyone interested in economic development in our community. This is what businesses want,” she said.

Various local organizations have been attempting to provide senior housing on the Barr property, considered prime due to its proximity to downtown, for several years, Seibel said. First the Morgan Foundation purchased the land and donated it to the Friends Care Community for the construction of senior apartments, but that project was later dropped due to cost overruns and the recession. The Home, Inc./Buckeye project is a second attempt to fill this local need, Seibel said.

See the March 1 News for other items of Council business.


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