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Barr property gets second offer

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A second purchase option for the Barr property arose over the summer after funding for its development with senior apartments fell through. Buckeye Community Hope Foundation still holds the primary purchase option on the property until Sept. 30, should the foundation and development partner Home, Inc. choose to buy. But earlier this month property owner Friends Care community signed a contract with a second buyer who agreed to take it if Buckeye decides not to.

The sale sign went back up on the Barr property in June, and over the summer Friends received several offers for the property, signing a contingency agreement in August. Friends board chair Todd Leventhal preferred to wait for a response from Buckeye before providing any details about the secondary purchaser, he said this week. Buckeye’s projected purchase price for the 1.6-acre property at the northeast corner of Xenia Avenue and Limestone Street was $375,000.

Buckeye initiated the original purchase agreement in the spring of 2011 and had until June of this year to close on the deal, which was contingent on federal financing for the construction project. According to Leventhal, Friends agreed to honor the purchase option until Sept. 30, with the opportunity to extend the fee and option until Dec. 31, at which point the property was to be paid in full.

The Columbus-based housing agency partnered with Home, Inc. to build a 34-unit affordable senior apartment building to be financed with federal tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. While the Barr project scored high marks, Buckeye was notified in April that the project was not one of the four developments in its category to receive the competitive financing. At the time, Buckeye was considering applying to OHFA for the 2013 funding cycle. But OHFA isn’t accepting applications until February of 2013, after Friends’ last deadline.

Buckeye development director Roy Lowenstein said this week that the agency is still considering whether or not to reapply for financing at the Barr site. Lowenstein, who is managing the local project with Home, Inc. Director Emily Seibel, first needs to gauge how competitive the project will be in this year’s pool, he said. But ultimately, “if the [property] owner is not willing to extend the offer, it doesn’t do us any good to have the [purchase] rights to the end of the year when the application isn’t due until February,” he said.

“From our standpoint, we can only submit a certain number of applications each year, and we want them to be competitive and also feasible,” Lowenstein said.

Friends has its own needs to consider. The Morgan Family Foundation gifted the property to Friends in 2007 to build senior housing there, and the care center spent three years and over $300,000 in planning, designing and vetting an apartment building that in the end was not financially feasible.

“We invested a lot in the property ourselves, and we’re not in the position to hold it indefinitely,” Leventhal said this week.

The Barr project was expected to cost a total of $5.5 million, with $4.4 million coming from tax-credit financing and a small amount from the income of four market-rate apartments. The apartments were to serve seniors 55 and over, the majority with incomes at or below 60 percent of area median income for Greene County, or about $30,000 for a couple.

The project was favored for its show of community investment, including a $250,000 grant from the Morgan Family Foundation, and a utility tap-in waiver from the Village valued at about $20,000. But it suffered slightly from not showing a dense enough pool of eligible residents, though according to Seibel last spring, there are enough income-qualified seniors in Yellow Springs to fill the apartments.

“In the long run we want to do a senior housing project in Yellow Springs,” Lowenstein said. “We missed last year. We’ll know more about the current project later in the year.”


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