A development that would create 57 units of affordable housing in Northside marketed to LGBTQ seniors was awarded pivotal federal tax credits yesterday, clearing the way for that project to move forward.
The Ohio Housing Finance Agency awarded Apple Street Senior almost $1 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development.
The project at the former Save-A-Lot location at 4145 Apple St. is a collaboration between neighborhood community development corporation Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation and national developer Pennrose.
Units in the development will range from two $369 studio apartments for those making 30 percent of the area's median income all the way up to six two-bedroom apartments renting for about $1,000 a month for those making 60 percent of the area median income, according to the project's application for the tax credits.
The Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio and Pennrose will provide on-site supportive services for residents. AIDS service nonprofit Caracole will also provide services to residents who need them, and the project will have a referral relationship with Churches Active in Northside for residents who need social services and other aid.
"NEST is proud to add this cornerstone project to our 15-year history of mission-driven housing improvement in Northside,” NEST Executive Director Sarah Thomas said in a statement. “We look forward to a strong partnership with Pennrose and Caracole offering safe, affordable housing to underserved populations and keeping our neighborhood diverse, welcoming and open to all."
The building, designed by New Republic Architecture, will also offer a three-story elevator and fitness center.
Residents of the building must be above the age of 55, but do not have to be LGBTQ to live there. Management staff, service providers and others related to the project will receive LGBTQ cultural competency training.
"We are so excited to partner on Apple Street Senior and serve this vulnerable population,” Caracole Executive Director Linda Seiter said in a statement. “Finally, LGBTQ seniors will have a safe, affordable and supportive place to live with their peers.”
The project has received endorsements from SAGE and local LGBTQ group the Imperial Sovereign Queen City Court of the Buckeye Empire, both of which will help the developers with spreading the word about available units.
NEST purchased the property in 2018 with the help of a $550,000 loan from the City of Cincinnati and selected Pennrose as the project's developer last year. NEST's loan agreement with the city required the community development corporation to have a development plan in place within 24 months of receiving the loan.
A Save-A-Lot discount grocery store operated at the location of the project until its closure in 2013. In the years since, the site had been the focus of efforts to establish a cooperatively-owned grocery store called Apple Street Market. That project amassed shareholders and other financing and aided in efforts to convince the city to fund NEST's acquisition of the property. But a series of events toppled much of the financing the group had identified for a grocery store project last year, and space requirements made combining the housing and grocery concepts prohibitive, both Apple Street and NEST say. Apple Street Market is currently searching for other viable locations for a future store.
The credits Apple Street Senior won are part of $31 million in LIHTC awards the housing finance agency distributed to 37 projects this year. Those credits also went to five other projects in Hamilton County. Competition for the credits — the primary funding mechanism for affordable housing in the United States over the past few decades — was fierce. OHFA received 88 applications seeking more than $76 million in credits this year.
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