News and Tribune

October 10, 2012

New Albany senior living center gets public backing by slim margin

New Albany clarifying intentions for site once planned for River View development


NEW ALBANY — The backing of a proposed senior housing development for low-income residents was again a point of debate in New Albany on Tuesday.

By a 3-2 margin, the New Albany Redevelopment Commission voted to support the Legacy at Riverside project when it comes up for state review for tax credits later this year.

The commission took similar action last year, though the New Albany City Council later passed a resolution requesting that the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, or IHCDA, deny the application for credits.

The developer behind the project is The Sterling Group, and it was denied credits by IHCDA. But the group intends to reapply later this year with a decision likely coming in February from the state.

A rehabilitation of the former Reisz Furniture building off Main Street as well as the construction of new facilities are part of The Sterling Group’s plan for the Legacy at Riverside.

The firm has scaled back the project slightly from 74 to 71 units.

Those who disagree with the project site an over abundance of low-income housing in the city. New Albany City Councilman and redevelopment member Kevin Zurschmiede has been one of the strongest opponents of the plan, and voted against the supporting measure Tuesday.

“My constituents are against any more low-income housing,” he said.

Additionally, he questioned whether the guaranteed 50 parking spaces for the development would be enough. Though IHCDA would mandate the Legacy at Riverside remain a senior living facility for at least 30 years, Zurschmiede said after that time frame it could house a different clientele with more of a demand for parking.

“If other development occurs around, then the parking garage is going to go away,” he said.

Council President and commission member Diane McCartin-Benedetti also voted against the redevelopment measure. She said the council opposition to the project was based in part on the property tax revenue that would be lost if the development is constructed. She said one idea is that the city should purchase the lot and market it for projects that could better increase the property tax base.

The Legacy at Riverside has been backed by Mayor Jeff Gahan, and the parking allotment was reviewed and approved by the New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals. Redevelopment member Adam Dickey said that if parking is mandated for every project, than “we’ll have to tear down every building down in downtown” every time a restaurant is added.

The commission has committed $100,000 to improving alleys and sidewalks for the development. To qualify for residency, people would have to be 55 or older and earn between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income.

City clarifying proposal for river development

A new request for proposals, or RFP, hasn’t been distributed for the property that was once planned for the River View development because of efforts to refine the city’s involvement in a potential project, Economic Development Director David Duggins told the commission.

Earlier this year, the commission decided to accept new proposals after some redevelopment members cited a lack of progress on the River View development.

The project was planned as a multiuse development with retail, office and commercial space adjacent to the Floyd County branch of the YMCA of Southern Indiana off Main Street. River View also was based on a $12.5 million tax-increment financing commitment to foot a plaza and parking garage to primarily serve the downtown development.

The TIF funds were to be paid back with tax revenue generated by River View.

After more than a year of discussion, it was announced River View would have to be built in phases. Soon after, the commission made its decision to accept new ideas for use of the publicly owned property.

Duggins said the new RFP won’t be circulated until the administration has a firm handle on what the city can afford in terms of any financial contribution as well as what kind of project would best suit the area.

The River View development had been proposed during Mayor Doug England’s tenure.

“We are being very judicious in our examination of the entire area,” Duggins said. “I don’t expect to [release the RFP] until we have a clear picture of what we’re looking for.”

Nonprofit eying Eighth and Culbertson building

Greg Sekula, director of the Southern Regional Office for Indiana Landmarks, told the redevelopment commission Tuesday that the stabilization effort for the Peter Weinmann Building is nearing an end.

The circa 1858 building — located at the intersection of Eighth Street and Culbertson Avenue — was set for demolition before Indiana Landmarks, the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, the New Albany Urban Enterprise Zone Association and the redevelopment commission pitched-in more than $80,000 to purchase and stabilize the structure in December.

Sekula said 15 custom windows have been ordered to finish covering openings on the first and second floors of the building. There’s also more work to do on the entrance way, he added.

“We’re hoping everything will be completed by the end of November, if not sooner” depending on the weather, Sekula said.

He added a nonprofit has expressed a desire in purchasing the building, but that he couldn’t divulge who the entity is yet. He said the Indiana Landmarks board of directors has received a letter from the nonprofit expressing a “strong interest” in the property.

The redevelopment commission provided a $35,000 grant for the project. But if the building is sold, Sekula said any profit would be prorated and divided between Indiana Landmarks and the UEZ.

The UEZ gave $12,500 in money and credits for the project, and Indiana Landmarks initially gave $25,000. Sekula said Indiana Landmarks has since chipped-in an additional $7,500 for repairs on the former store front side of the building.