Notes from 12/06/2016 Community Meeting Regarding Coal Factory Development
Irvington United Methodist Church, 30 North Audubon Road, Indianapolis, IN
Presenters: Jarod Brown and Antone Najem, Third Street Ventures; Craig McCormick, Blackline Studios; Margaret Banning, Irvington Development Organization
Margaret Banning mentioned that several people had asked about demographics and how Irvington compares to other neighborhoods. She referred neighbors to www.savi.org and www.indyvitals.org. These tools provide lots of useful data, including this info: Irvington is the 14th most dense neighborhood in Marion County, and that’s more dense than the county at large. The median assessed value of Irvington homes is $90,000, and in the last six years, that has increased $8,700.
Regarding Section 42 tax credits awarded by IHCDA, there have been approximately 150 Section 42 tax credit projects in Indianapolis since the program began.
The handout Margaret distributed also linked to these articles and studies:
- “Opposition to affordable housing in Tinley Park rooted in unfounded fears, experts say,” Chicago Tribune, https://goo.gl/qKbgyD
- “Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?,” National Housing Conference, https://goo.gl/JUa9NL
- “There Doesn’t Go the Neighborhood: Low-Income Housing Has No Impact on Nearby Home Values,” Trulia, https://goo.gl/20qfw0
How does Section 42 differ from other rent assistance programs, like Section 8?
The residents who live in Section 42 units must be income and program eligible similar to residents who live in rental assistance developments. However, the rent that a Section 42 resident will pay is capped at a fixed amount and includes utilities that are the resident’s responsibility. In rental assistance programs such as Section 8, the resident’s rent is based on 30% of his/her income and the remaining adjusted portion is funded by the federal government. The Section 42 Program is not a government- subsidized rental program.
During the meeting, several neighbors mentioned how they were feeling about the proposed development. Some said they’re still anxious about the proposal and fast pace of the project, and uncertain that the residential component is right for the neighborhood. They suggested that a different type of development, such as an ice skating rink or commercial property, might be a better fit.
Other neighbors said they’re eager to move forward, especially because the property has been in such bad condition for a number of years.
Other neighbors expressed a neutral attitude and desire to hear more from the developers.
Craig McCormick reminded neighbors that while the pace of the project seems fast, there’s still a long way to go toward a finished development. He reminded neighbors that award of the tax credits won’t be announced before February. In order to give neighbors more time to provide feedback, and developers time to respond to that feedback, the next IHPC hearing has been moved to February 1st. He said it’s likely that work wouldn’t begin on the site before late 2017.
Neighbors who attended the meeting were shown two new proposals and asked for their feedback. Craig stated that although the drawings look finished, they’re simply mockups, not final.
Note: It’s important that neighbors understand that while the developers are working hard to create a product that neighbors are happy with, the plans presented in the meetings are subject to change, as almost always happens in a complex project like this when conditions in the field may dictate it.
Proposal A: This would be a brick, flat-roofed apartment building similar to many other apartment buildings in Irvington in the 1920s.
Proposal B: This apartment building has gabled roofs, more of a town home look that is somewhat consistent with surrounding homes.
Neighbors briefly discussed the merits of each.
The developers are committed to using high-quality materials, and IHPC supports that choice in any development. Although some neighbors find certain architectural styles too modern for the neighborhood, it’s important to understand that IHPC prefers work that is “of its time” and constructed with high-quality materials. IHPC doesn’t like architecture that mimics an older style. In regard to the look of this development, Craig said he thinks it’s important to consider context, scale, and rhythm.
Neighbors asked about some issues that had been discussed previously.
- Parking: The onsite lot is likely to include 91-93 parking spaces, which is much more than the city requires. A parking variance won’t be necessary.
- Drainage: The developers understand that neighbors oppose a retention pond. Storm water will instead be managed below ground, most likely beneath the parking lot, likely with rain gardens included on the property.
- Aisle size: The plan includes larger drive aisles to allow for semi-truck deliveries to the Black Acre Brewing facility.
- Fence: An 8-foot privacy fence in appropriate places on the property will prevent foot traffic to neighboring yards. However, the fence won’t screen visibility from the second floor of the apartment complex, just as a fence between existing residential neighbors wouldn’t screen visibility from two-story homes.
- Density: High infrastructure costs associated with the site mean that building single-family homes on the site isn’t financially feasible. The previous proposal for the property required an estimated $1.5 million investment, and unfortunately the project failed because that cost doubled to $3 million. The new developers have found a way to invest $7 million, but that plan requires the proposed density.
- Brownfield: Developers are engaging highly qualified environmental engineers and intend to follow all laws and protocols when mediating contamination on the site. Also, Irvington-based environmental consulting company Mundell & Associates owns the property adjacent to the site and was hired to work on the environmental assessment.
- Property management: A reputable property management company will screen potential renters and ensure that residents follow all rules on the property.
Irvington Lofts, another Irvington property that was developed and managed by the same entities as the group developing this property, includes a community room that is available to residents and neighborhood community-focused organizations, but it isn’t available to businesses and individual neighbors. If a community room is included with the new building, those same rules would apply.
A neighbor asked what will happen when the tax credits expire. IHCDA establishes requirements related to expiration of the tax credits on a case by case basis.
Neighbors again mentioned infrastructure problems (flooding and water pressure issues and phone utility boxes) in the neighborhood that are unrelated to the property on Bonna. Developers acknowledged that working with utility companies can be tricky and recommended that neighbors engage a liaison who can help them work with the utility companies to resolve these issues. Neighbors agreed that they would follow up.
Some neighbors again expressed distrust of community organizations, including IDO, HICC, and “the historical society.” In response to that, another neighbor recommended that concerned neighbors attend meetings and volunteer with those organizations to get a better sense of how they work. When a neighbor mentioned she would prefer that the people representing her actually lived in Irvington, others clarified that all members of our community organizations (IDO, HICC, Irvington Historical Society, IBA, and Irvington Garden Club) live and/or work in Irvington.
Neighbors asked who profits from the new development and whether community organizations will receive payment for their support of the development. Margaret explained that IDO is a co-developer that would receive a professional fee for services if the project goes forward as was the case with the Lofts apartments and the original Coal Factory proposal. Fundraising for IDO pays for the streetlights along the business corridor and the landscape maintenance. Margaret offered to share IDO’s financial statements and budget with concerned neighbors.
A neighbor asked about the future of the site if this proposal doesn’t work out and expressed concerns about values of adjacent properties if the site remains in its current state. Margaret explained that if this proposed development falls through, IBRE (the current property owner) would continue to look for a buyer until someone sees the potential in the site and is willing and able to make the investment.
Neighbors asked for data regarding value of properties adjacent to other Section 42 developments. Margaret said she was not able to find data that showed a decrease in properties adjacent to Section 42 developments (see previously listed articles and studies).
A neighbor who is also a city planner in Hamilton County spoke in favor of the proposal. He mentioned that he is aware of multiple Section 42 developments in Hamilton County, and they work well. He’s heard that some Irvington neighbors are concerned about crime but isn’t aware of an increase in crime near Section 42 properties.
As follow-up to questions raised at or after the meeting, here is some information about Irvington Lofts, which was built with a similar codevelopment agreement and benefits from Section 42 tax credits.
- Rents: $275 for a studio unit, $285–575 for a one-bedroom unit, and $675 for a two-bedroom unit.
- Demographics: Leaseholders include 4 single moms (1 child each), 1 married couple, 1 roommate pairing, and 44 individuals who live alone. There are approximately 9 leaseholders in the 18–30 age range, 21 in the 31–50 age range, and 14 who are over 50.
- Property management: Mark III manages the property and has an excellent reputation.
A third meeting to review the revised drawings will be scheduled in January, date and location to be determined.