Two new projects could bring 88 affordable apartments to Jefferson City

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Two new developers could hold the keys to making significant progress in solving a chronic shortage of affordable housing in the capital.

If both developments go through, the city could see 88 new apartments.

Jefferson City admitted there was a housing shortage before a May 22, 2019 tornado hit Miller and Cole counties, destroying more than 150 affordable housing units in Jefferson City.

If that wasn’t enough, the Jefferson City School District and the Capital Region Medical Center bought low-rent properties damaged (or destroyed) after the storm – to meet their expansion plans.

As Jefferson City conducts a study on the area’s housing needs, an analysis of barriers to equitable housing choice in 2018 found that a lack of housing for people with disabilities and affordable housing is concentrated in certain neighborhoods. with a large minority population.

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The city is receiving more than $ 7 million in tornado relief funds and the flooding that followed, but the money is not yet available. City staff are working on a request for funds that details how state funds would be used, said Rachel Senzee, neighborhood services supervisor. The request is due in May, but she hopes the request will be made before then, followed by the method of distributing the funds.

El Dorado Plaza Apartments

One of the developers, Lela Gruebel, said she plans to apply for disaster relief funding, but doesn’t want to keep waiting.

“It’s been 2 years since the tornado hit,” she said. “Hawthorne Plaza has 64 units that are not being rebuilt and there are other areas that have houses that have been bought, and there is just a housing shortage.”

Instead, she applied for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) through the Missouri Housing Development Commission. The program offers federal and state tax credits to those who invest in low-cost housing, either by constructing new buildings or renovating existing buildings. The credits can be applied for 10 years and can go up to a 9% tax credit.

Gruebel’s proposal would build a 48-unit apartment complex on El Dorado Drive; these would be two to four bedroom units.

While the program is characterized as low income housing, Gruebel described it more as housing for the workforce. Tenants should be working and be able to pay rent – without government subsidies, she said. But the rent would not exceed 30% of a family’s income.

She said it would be primarily for households of two to six people with incomes of up to $ 71,200.

Gruebel said tenants at other properties like this one she worked on included pharmacy technicians, bus drivers and CNAs.

“(They are) all working class people,” she said. “Unfortunately, companies don’t pay more than $ 15 an hour, and most people can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment for $ 15 an hour. So we’re trying to make it more affordable.”

Its proposal includes 24 two-bedroom units, 18 three-bedroom units and six four-bedroom units as well as a community building.

If the tax credits are approved, Gruebel said, work could start by July and last about a year and a half.

“We hope it gets better, but with COVID there has just been a lot of delays in construction, timing and getting materials,” she said. “We try to be conservative and take it into account.”

If her request is not approved, Gruebel said she would consider bond options or disaster relief funding when available. She would also apply for the tax credit program again next year, she said.

Trade Center Parkway Apartments

The other public housing tax credit claim in Jefferson City came from Jason Otke for a property on Trade Center Parkway, off Old Lohman Road.

The proposal includes 40 units of two or three bedrooms as well as a community building.

In 2017, the property was rezoned for multi-family housing development following a request from Lohman Investments, which still owns the property and of which Otke is a member.

The application for the LIHTC program was discussed at the time.

Otke could not be reached for comment.

“Potential opportunity”

Mayor Carrie Tergin said she hopes both requests will become a reality.

“I just think whenever there is an opportunity to expand housing in Jefferson City, especially for families, it matters,” she said. “Especially after going through the tornado and the last two years with the challenges we have been facing, it has had an impact on housing. It could provide a potential opportunity.”

Stefani Thompson, Cole County community organizer for the Central Missouri Community Action Agency (CMCA), said she was excited about the projects.

“We are optimistic that they will both be approved,” she said. “Housing was a need before the tornado, of course. It became an even bigger need after the tornado.”

CMCA prefers units with three or more bedrooms, she said, but all kinds of housing is needed.

“The problem we’re seeing is a family of five living in a one-bedroom apartment because that’s all they can afford and that’s all that’s available,” Thompson said.

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