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July 10, 2013

Coffey persistent on Midtown audit

Fire station conveyed for Kroger expansion deal



New Albany’s NSP program is regularly audited by the state, but Coffey said he would call the State Board of Accounts and request it pay special attention to how the project has been managed. Though it may fit within federal guidelines, Coffey said he’s uncomfortable with how much of the grant has been spent on administrative costs. 

According to documents provided by the city and New Directions, developer fees for the project totaled $712,800 as of May. 

“They made a huge profit,” Coffey said. 

In 2011, city officials said New Directions could claim up to $660,000 in developer fees and $342,823 for program delivery activities or costs they incur associated with the project. Also in 2011, state officials said up to 10 percent of the federal grant could be spent on administration costs. 

David Duggins, director of economic development and redevelopment for the city, said that with some grants winding down, the administration is reviewing how they have been managed. He didn’t specifically address how the administration views New Direction’s handling of the NSP project during the meeting, but has said in the past he’s pleased with the results of the effort in Midtown. 

In May, New Directions Chief Operating Officer Lisa Thompson said the NSP project has cut down on vacant properties and improved conditions in the Midtown neighborhood. 

“Investments will continue to benefit New Albany from what has already been accomplished,” she said. 

According to Thompson, New Directions has been informed that, along with the city, it will receive a regional historic preservation award from Indiana Landmarks for the Midtown project. 

After incentive assistance and other fees were paid, the city has collected about $983,000 that can be used to redevelop other vacant properties. 

Duggins said the administration has been acquiring some properties at cheap costs through tax sales, as well as receiving donated houses from banks and other sources. Those properties can be redeveloped through another wave of NSP work driven by the money collected from the initial phase. 

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