Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 11, 2013

City pursues another apartment project

Rezoning proposed for near-east side area

By Scott Smith
Kokomo Tribune

---- — A small housing boom is underway in Kokomo, and apartment complexes are leading the way.

With three apartment developments already under construction, the city of Kokomo is asking the Kokomo Plan Commission to rezone 13 parcels on Kokomo’s near east side into a single multi-family residential district.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said Friday the city is in talks with a developer to bring a tax-credit funded apartment complex to the area, which is centered between Jefferson and Jackson streets, east of Apperson Way.

If it happens, the new development would address one of the city’s more blighted areas. About half of the 13 properties being rezoned are presently vacant, and include a former church, a former motorcycle club headquarters and a former barbecue restaurant.

Goodnight said the plan is to attract an investment of around $7 million to $9 million with the project, which would be contingent on receiving tax credits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We’ve had a few developers show interest in this, but we wanted something that would fit in with our redevelopment strategy,” Goodnight said.

A two- or three-story building fronting Apperson, with adequate parking behind, is what city officials have envisioned, he added.

In return for the credits, which can be sold to raise funds for a project, developers commit to reserving a certain percentage of the new units for low-to-moderate income families.

Water Tower Place at Kingston Square apartments, being built on the north side site of the old Kingston Products plant, and Washington Street Senior apartments, rising in between Taylor and Jackson streets, are both very recent tax-credit projects.

Another nearby project, the Jackson Street Commons veteran’s housing, is a project of the nonprofit Family Services Association of Howard County.

Work crews also started preparation work this week on a site located across Washington Street from Indiana University Kokomo for a privately funded apartment complex. Developers Mecca Companies Inc., South Bend, are hoping to lure IUK students to that development.

It appears probable the 13-parcel area east of Apperson will be rezoned. All of the property owners have signed on to the rezoning petition, and the owner of the one existing business affected, a barber shop, plans to relocate to a commercially zoned property nearby.

Goodnight said the rezoning is a necessary first step in the application process for the tax credits and said he anticipates the prospective developer, who he declined to identify, will apply for credits by the application deadline this year.

Emily Duncan, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, said the next round of tax credit applications are due Nov. 1, with a letter of intent to be submitted 30 days ahead of application submission.

Duncan said the applications are reviewed and the award recommendations will be taken to the February 2014 IHCDA Board of Directors meeting.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com