A development aimed at housing LGBTQ seniors is coming to the site of a vacant former grocery store in Northside.
Northside's community development corporation, NEST, is partnering with national developer Pennrose on Apple Street Senior, a project building 57 studio, one and two-bedroom apartments at 4145 Apple Street.
Those units 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 federal Low Income Housing 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.
The building, designed by New Republic Architecture, will also offer a three-story elevator and fitness center.
NEST and Pennrose say the development will be unique in Cincinnati.
“Innovative housing solutions like Apple Street Senior respond to the growing need for safe and affordable spaces for LGBTQ seniors across the country, and we’re excited to work with NEST to bring this first-of-its-kind community to Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood,” Pennrose Regional Vice President Lasserre Bradley said in a statement.
NEST Executive Director Sarah Thomas cites past projects by Pennrose in New York City and Boston with a similar focus and says her group has talked extensively with national LGBTQ group SAGE about the Northside project. NEST and Pennrose are "hyper-focused" on promoting the housing within Cincinnati's LGBTQ community, she says.
“Apple Street Senior will be an important and much-needed asset to Cincinnati’s LGBTQ community,” Thomas said. “With a robust partnership of local and national organizations, along with Pennrose’s experience developing and managing LGBTQ-friendly communities nationwide, Apple Street Senior will provide a safe and welcoming environment to a population that has often faced disproportionate housing discrimination.”
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.
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.
Completion of the project will require Pennrose and NEST to win a competitive bid for the low-income housing tax credits administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. Those awards are expected to be announced May 20. If the project wins the tax credits this round, construction could begin next January and could be open for leasing at the beginning of 2022.