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Tippecanoe County Looks to Diversify Housing

Posted: Apr. 15, 2019 10:40 PM – Posted By: Kayla Sullivan

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – County and city leaders, builders, developers and realtors in Tippecanoe County went to Monday’s housing strategy meeting to listen. 

“We want to hear what people want,” said Jay Andrew, a board member for the Builders Association of Greater Lafayette.

Greenstreet consulting took a year to find out what people want when it comes to housing. 

“More and more people are feeling the pinch and having trouble meeting the housing needs on their own income,” said Mark O’Neall, Senior Associate at Greenstreet.

Understanding what homeowners and renters value, could help stakeholders understand where to invest and where to cut cost. The study found household sizes are changing.

“People living alone or just with a partner are growing a lot faster than families,” said O’Neall. 

“Families used to be larger than what they are and now they are much smaller,” said Lafayette Director of Economic Development Dennis Carson. “You know, having less children and then people getting married later, so, all of those things are effecting those housing choices.”

In many cases, those smaller families are looking for less space. Andrew can see this type of housing work in downtown Lafayette.

“Some more of the high rise mix use stuff, so you can kind of have a restaurant down below, have some of the amenities some people are looking for,” said Andrew. 

However, the city knows it can’t be limited to downtown. They’ll have to expand to surrounding neighborhoods to be successful.

“Have enough rooftops and people that would support a downtown grocery store,” said Carson. 

Their overall goal isn’t just to house people, it’s to give them a place they want to live, a forever home.

“Just making sure that we are a fun city to live in you can prosper here but you can also have fun on a week night, a weekend and be happy with your daily life,” said Builders Association of Greater Lafayette member Jennie Dekker. 

Group launches $15M loan fund for housing near IndyGo stops

Hayleigh Colombo

The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership has launched a loan fund intended to create and preserve affordable housing along the city’s public transportation lines. 

The $15 million Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Fund was launched in collaboration with Michigan-based Cinnaire, a community development financial institution with offices in Indianapolis, which will manage the fund. 

INHP will be the fund’s sole borrower and will acquire existing buildings or vacant or underused properties, with the goal of maintaining or developing mixed-use, mixed-income housing.

The ultimate objective of the fund is to preserve or spur development of 1,000 affordable housing units within close distance of an Indianapolis transit stop over the next five years. The units would be leased to eligible tenants.

“We believe everyone should have equal opportunity to live in a neighborhood with easy access to employment, health care, child care, education, food and support services,” said INHP president and CEO Moira Carlstedt.

John Marron, director of strategic planning for IndyGo, said the fund would help “ensure housing costs remain affordable in locations with easy access to transit” as the IndyGo bus service undergoes an expansion in Indianapolis with an increase in service and creation of three bus rapid transit lines. 

The fund is composed of $12 million in lending capital from First Merchants Bank, National Bank of Indianapolis, Lake City Bank and First Financial Bank. It also has $3 million in equity funding: $1.5 million from the INHP, $1 million from the city of Indianapolis and a $500,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase. The fund already has $5 million in lines of credit contributed by banks; and the rest is in various stages of closing, according to INHP.

The idea of the fund is to give the INHP access to more low-interest financing to complete more projects. 

Rick Laber, Cinnaire’s executive Vice President for new ventures, said he is encouraged by the initial interest from banks to participate in the fund. 

“This couldn’t happen without the bankers having a heart for the mission of what we’re talking about,” Laber said. “This needed to be low-cost, patient capital. The banks have stepped up with low-cost, patient capital.”

The city of Indianapolis’ contribution comes from Department of Metropolitan Development funds, according to a city spokesperson.

“Today is a fantastic day for the city of Indianapolis,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said. “This tremendous partnership will make our city a more equitable city, a more thriving city, and … one that is a prime example of a public drive partnership done well.”

So far, INHP has acquired two properties using the fund, 401 Southern Avenue near Garfield Park, and 2163 N. Illinois St., which is north of downtown. Both stops are close to future IndyGo Red Line stops.

“We’ll see activity on these parcels hopefully soon,” said Carlstedt.

The initiative comes as the result of an idea INHP heard during the community visioning process called Plan 2020 from Indianapolis resident Gary Reiter, who thought the city had a problem with a lack of affordable housing, especially around transit routes.

INHP then conducted studies that showed his hunch was correct. It also found that transit and housing costs were eating up an average of 46 percent of Indianapolis residents’ income.

“The vision he had was to combine the ever-growing transit system with the problem he saw as a shortage of affordable housing,” said Joe Hanson, INHP’s executive vice president for capital development and strategic initiatives. “This tool is intended to address both of those challenges. It addresses the lack of supply of safe, decent affordable housing but more importantly, aligns that with high-quality, frequent, reliable transit. It’s about creating those opportunities for inclusive economic mobility.”

Carlstedt said the fund was also made possible because of a $26.6 million grant in 2015 from the Lilly Endowment to INHP, which helped fund INHP’s contribution.

“They said to the board and staff, ‘Seize opportunities, be innovative and do more of what you do well,’” Carlstedt said. “The equitable transit fund is an example of seizing opportunity and being innovative.”

Here’s what’s going up at Fifth and South in downtown Lafayette: A $10-million development

Dave Bangert, Journal and Courier Columnist 10/1/2018 10:45:00 AM

LAFAYETTE – Say goodbye to Lafayette City Hall’s parking lot at Fifth and South streets, developers prepare to build a complex of apartments and retail space in downtown Lafayette.

The city closed the parking lot on Monday to clear the way for Star City Crossing, a five-story mixed-use project expected to feature 76 apartments and 7,900-square-feet of commercial and retail space on the first floor, plus a parking facility. A timeline for the project wasn’t immediately available.

Construction of the $10.5 million project comes at a time when a city-generated study, released this summer, suggested that downtown Lafayette will need to have 550 to 800 more housing units by 2022 to meet the demands of the growing population.