If all the financing falls into place, a planned five-story building with up to 60 new apartments and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space will start welcoming new residents to the entrance of Bloomington’s Switchyard Park off Walnut Street sometime in the summer of 2022.
Part of the financial puzzle was solved for the developer, RealAmerica Development, LLC, when Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC) approved a $1 purchase agreement for the real estate. The unanimous vote came at the RDC’s regular Monday meeting.
The RDC had bought the property a couple of years ago for $800,000, which was the former location of the Night Moves strip club.
Asked to comment on the disparity between the purchase price and the appraisal the RDC had obtained on the property, city controller Jeff Underwood said it was understood the RDC would not get back the fair market value on the land deal.
The proposal from RealAmerica might not have been the biggest fiscal proposal that the RDC had received through its request for information (RFI), Underwood said. But it had all the other attributes the city was looking for, he said.
What was Bloomington looking for? Affordable housing. For a long time and for a lot of people.
Jeff Ryan, vice president of development for Indy-based RealAmerica Development, LLC told Bloomington redevelopment commissioners that the apartments would include a mix of 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments, with leases priced for residents earning from 30 percent to 80 percent of Bloomington’s area median income (AMI).
That’s an income range from $15,550 to $41,350.
The lower end of that AMI range will be set aside for clients of Stone Belt, a nonprofit that supports those with disabilities. Stone Belt is partnering with RealAmerica on housing for its clients and on design, Ryan said.
Doris Sims, who’s director of the city’s housing and neighborhood development department (HAND), said the typical time frame for commitments to affordability are 30 to 40 years, so RealAmerica’s 99-year commitment is unusual.
The development, to be called “Retreat @ the Switchyard,” will include a fitness center, computer room, dog wash, playground, bike racks, and offices for Stone Belt.
Other amenities include free Wi-Fi, cable TV hookups in all bedrooms, a full-size washer and dryer, built-in dishwashers, stove, garbage disposal, and self-cleaning oven. All apartments are planned to have a balcony or patio.
RealAmerica was chosen from 10 developers who responded to the city’s RFI, based in part on its experience with low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), which is being used to finance the deal.
From the 10, four were selected for interviews. The committee that conducted interviews consisted of Sims, Underwood, assistant city attorney Larry Allen, planning and transportation director Terri Porter, and economic and sustainable development director Alex Crowley.
According to a press release issued by the city of Bloomington, the timeline for development will include an application for the low-income tax credits by September 2020, design and engineering in the spring of 2021, and construction projected to be finished in the summer of 2022.
RealAmerica is also applying for a 10-year tax abatement, which the RDC does not have the authority to approve. That’s a request that will wind up in front of Bloomington’s city council, Allen said at Monday’s RDC meeting.
Responding to a question from The Square Beacon about the value of the land according to the appraisal, Allen pointed to Indiana Code Section 36-7-14-19(b), which says that appraisals that the RDC may obtain for the purpose of acquiring property are “solely for the information of the commission, and are not open for public inspection.”
The redevelopment commission’s source of funds for land deals like the Night Moves purchase is tax increment financing (TIF).