City moves Haw Creek Meadows project forward

City officials approved declaring the location of a potential affordable housing development an economic revitalization area (ERA).

The Columbus City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday to pass the request, the first step towards qualifying for a tax abatement.

Council member Chris Bartels, R-District 1 was absent. Council member Grace Kestler, D-at-large, abstained from the vote because she’s on the Thrive Alliance board.

Housing Partnerships Inc. (HPI), a non-profit that does business as Thrive Alliance, is planning a development called Haw Creek Meadows that would be a combination of workforce family housing and housing for seniors to be built over two phases.

It would be located at the site of the former Columbus Health and Rehabilitation Center at 2100 Midway St. and reserved for those making 30%, 50% and 60% of area median income (AMI), Thrive Alliance officials said.

Next, the council will vote on a confirmatory resolution to make the area an ERA during their meeting on July 16 to officially qualify HPI for a tax abatement.

Phase one would see 64 workforce family housing units with a child care component and phase two would encompass 64 units for seniors.

The child care facility would be open to both residents and non-residents and focused on children up to age 3, Kevin Johnson, executive director of Housing Partnerships at Thrive Alliance, told the redevelopment commission last week. He said they plan to have an agreement in place with a licensed childcare provider who will work in the facility.

The multifamily portion will consist of 20, 30 percent AMI units, 13, 50 percent AMI units and 31, 60 percent AMI units, Johnson said on Tuesday night.

Plans for the development also include a quarter-mile walking trail, a picnic area, a gazebo and a community garden. Johnson added they would also look to add a commercial space for something like a coffee shop “so the seniors would have a reason to come out of their units and break down social isolation.”

The project will likely be up for bids in the second quarter of next year and construction will start by the third quarter, according to Johnson. Build time is expected to take 15 to 18 months with leasing getting started in 2026 and reaching 100 percent occupancy in June of 2027.

Haw Creek Meadows would require demolition of the existing property on site and the construction of a new four-story building — the total project cost for phase one is expected to be $20.6 million, Andrew Lanam of Stifel Public Finance told the redevelopment commission last week.

HPI intends to ask for a 10-year real property tax abatement on a $14.4 million investment, according to city documents. The tax abatement itself would also be voted on during the July 16 meeting.

HPI is applying for an award of 9 percent federal low-income housing tax (LIHT) credits in the amount of $13 million to help with financing of the project, along with about $3.3 million in Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative (READI) funds through the South Central Indiana Housing and Community Development Corporation (SCIHCDC).

The application for LIHT credits will be submitted by the end of this month and are awarded in November, Johnson said on Tuesday night.