Redevelopment Buys Lots For Possible Senior Housing

The Warsaw Redevelopment Commission’s purchase of five lots on East Market Street from Kosciusko County Habitat for Humanity will allow the properties to be repackaged for a future housing development, possibly senior housing.
Monday afternoon, the Commission approved the contract for the purchase of lots A-E of the replat of lots 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 of Frazier’s Addition for $75,000. The lots are almost directly across East Market Street from Fribley Field.
City Planner Jeremy Skinner said, “This is obviously something we’ve been working on for awhile.” Two appraisals were done in 2015, with the average being $75,000, which Habitat accepted.
Mike Klondaris, Commission member, asked if Habitat was going to build something there but then decided not to.
“They were going to build some houses for Habitat. In conversations with them, we did not feel that was the best location for that,” Skinner responded. “We had, as part of our comprehensive plan, the Market Street neighborhood plan. That portion was to look at redeveloping some housing opportunities in there.”
Last year the city applied for that property to be a part of Stellar Communities, and this year the city will “attempt to do the same,” Skinner said.
The Indiana Stellar Communities Program is a multi-year, $58 million-plus initiative operated by the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s office and funded by the Indiana Housing and Community Economic Development Authority, the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and the Indiana Department of Transportation, according to The ISCP develops strategic community investment plans, promotes partnerships and implements comprehensive solutions to address local challenges in Indiana’s smaller communities involving community economic development, housing, transportation and overall quality of life.
Mayor Joe Thallemer told the Commission, “Having that property gives us the opportunity to package that to a developer and apply for tax credit financing or other ways to enhance that type of project in that Stellar-designated area. So it gives us the flexibility instead of not having that entire area. It gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to a project.”
Skinner said Habitat was looking at having maybe five houses on those lots. “As part of our redevelopment project, we’d like to see 40, 50, 60 houses there, not five,” he said.
Skinner said Warsaw has been working with an Indianapolis developer, The Englewood Group, that is willing to look at the property for senior housing, “so that’s what we’d like to see happen at that location as part of the Market Street project.” Englewood owns the Court of Colfax developments, which are senior housing, in Warsaw.
The Market Street lots currently are empty and were donated to Habitat for Humanity.
“My personal opinion is that they’re not suitable for their use. Two reasons. For as low density as they were going to, there’s a number of soil issues that they would have to deal with, which probably would have made the individual use of those lots for them (cost prohibitive). Whereas we look at it from a multi-housing development – senior housing – and with more units the less impact that is and less cost prohibitive,” Skinner explained.
Curt Hermann, Commission member, asked if studies have been done in the area showing whether more senior housing is needed. Skinner said that although Warsaw has quite a bit of senior housing, it’s still in demand.
“That need’s not going to decrease in the coming years, that’s for sure,” Hermann said.
“Originally, it was my intent to look at swapping viable lots somewhere else for these lots, but it’s very cumbersome for us to acquire property, and it’s a lot easier for us to acquire their property and allow them to take that money and go out and buy some lots than it is for us to acquire five lots,” Skinner stated.
He noted that Habitat already has two homes on East Market Street.
“These projects are all projects that have been part of the Stellar planning process and part of the Market Street redevelopment. We’ve had housing involved, transportation involved, improvement of parks along there. It’s, again, a designated area that lends itself to an entire rehabilitation. You start with the public infrastructure, and then you’re able to add these development pieces as they come up, and then the neighborhood itself starts to improve,” Thallemer said. “That’s the whole concept here with the Market Street corridor.”
In other business, the Commission approved the Dec. 7 meeting minutes and the claims.
Claims included: two from Troyer Group, $155 and $14,744, for professional services for Mariners Drive extension; two from A & Z Engineering LLC, each $10,012.50, for the Husky Trail project roundabout design; Huntington National Bank, $250 for bond paying agent fee; HJ Umbaugh & Associates, $405.60 for professional services for the redevelopment tax district bonds; Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, $2,890 for professional services; two from Nutro Inc., $229,729 and $229,728.30, for the Winona PVD third bond issue; and Wessler Engineering, $3,600 for design of the lift station at the Tech Park.
The Commission also announced its next meeting is at 4 p.m. March 7.