SOUTH BEND – A developer could convert the decade-vacant former Marquette School into low-income apartments after winning a unanimous vote of support Monday night from the South Bend Common Council.
Jon Anderson stated that his AP Development LLC of Brownsburg, Ind. planned to invest more than $ 10 million in the 70,000 square foot building to create 46 apartments, after obtaining the building free of charge from the South Bend Community School Corp., if AP Development obtains tax credits Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
Half of the apartments would be reserved for households earning up to 60% of the region’s median income, a quarter for those earning up to 50% and another quarter for those earning up to 30%. For a family of four, for example, these incomes would be $ 42,480 for half of the units, $ 35,400 for the middle group and $ 21,240 for the last group.
Anderson said the South Bend Housing Authority has agreed to pledge 10 project-based vouchers for the project.
Unanimous council support for a necessary zoning change for the project came despite opposition from several residents of the far northwest neighborhood.
Kelly Haines said she and her husband Terry, who have lived nearby in the 1800 block of College Street for 25 years, “have real concerns about having low-income housing next door to us. “.
Haines said she and her husband worked in “subsidized housing” for a property management company.
“I understand the need for this, I understand the concept of it,” she said. “But I also understand the difficulties that come with maintaining subsidized properties that have a high level of very low income subsidized tenants.”
She said there were 2,053 Section 8 apartments in the city, 1,036 other low-income units such as Tax Credit Projects, and 2,006 other housing choice vouchers managed by the City Authority. lodging.
“We don’t need additional housing for low-income people in our area,” she said. “We already have a large number of rental properties, which has helped ensure that property values in our area do not increase at the rate of those on the northeast side or the south side.”
Haines went on to mention other reasons they oppose the project, including increased traffic and street parking, as well as “light, noise and emission pollution in our neighborhood.”
As a trustee of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Adam Toering urged council to approve the rezoning because he believes the project will ensure the preservation of the building. Speaking personally, Toering said he lived in affordable housing for years in another city when he was younger and single.
“It had a very lasting impact,” Toering said. “It made my life liveable because I could afford to live in it. So personally, it’s interesting for me to see people oppose affordable housing when it’s so close to them. I understand that, but for someone who has lived in affordable housing, it is poignant to me.
Council member Canneth Lee, who shared fond memories of attending school as a child, said the city needs more affordable housing. Lee added that the community should take the chance to reuse the building before the school society demolishes it.
“Are we letting another building in our community decompose and become an eyesore?” Lee said. “I live three blocks away, and it pained me to drive and see it barricaded and maintained but not used.”
“There is not just a need for housing, but a housing crisis in our community,” said Council member Troy Warner.
“We have a significant shortage of affordable housing,” Council member Lori Hamann said. “For a developer to come into town, ready to use an existing brownstone building, which we’ve all been asking for, instead of demolishing those buildings… he’s offering to do it.”
The building, constructed in the late 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, closed in 2011 with the opening of the school society’s new Marquette Montessori Academy at the opposite end of the site. School corporation leaders wanted to demolish the old building in 2017 to create more green space for the new school, but the city’s Historic Preservation Commission thwarted that plan.
The building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and to the annual list of Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered Places in 2017.
The developers are considering a project similar to the local redevelopments of the former Mary Phillips Primary School, Mishawaka Main Junior High Apartments, and South Bend’s Central High.
Under the agreement with the school corporation, AP Development has until the end of next year to secure the money to renovate the building – rounds of grants this year and next year. Tax credits are very competitive, but Anderson spoke confidently about his chances. He said he had been a tax credit lawyer for 25 years and had a lot of experience in obtaining state agency credits and advising other developers on how to get them.
“I lost track, but I probably closed 300,350 tax credit projects,” Anderson said. “We understand the program inside and out. It’s competitive. We have submitted a very good application and we will see what we did in November.
Anderson said he would expect to complete the building’s conversion by the end of summer 2023.
If the developer is unable to secure the money, South Bend Schools will retain the property, and Indiana Landmarks has agreed not to oppose any district plans to request the building’s demolition.