56-unit housing project proposed for Huntingburg

Artist renderings provided
The project would be located on the former Huntingburg Wagon Works site, southeast corner of Fifth and North Washington streets. OFS owns the property and is going to demolish the building next month.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — A $5.8 million housing project in the works in Huntingburg would add 56 apartments to city housing.

The project would be located on the former Huntingburg Wagon Works site, southeast corner of Fifth and North Washington streets. OFS owns the property and is going to demolish the building next month.

“Apartments period are in scarce supply,” Planning Director Paul Lake told the Huntingburg Economic Development Commission today. “There really aren’t a lot of apartment units available.”

Indianapolis developer Paragus Group will construct three buildings, two of them two stories and one that is three stories. The units will be mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments with a club house/maintenance building east of the buildings. Parking lots will be constructed on-site.

Bingham Greenebaum Doll attorneys Bill Kaiser and Dave McGimpsey represented Paragus at today’s meeting. They explained that the project would be workforce housing with half of the units being studio apartments, also known as efficiency apartments.

“We’re finding that people are less likely to buy houses, especially young people,” Kaiser said. “Millennials don’t want that much space. They want to rent efficiencies.” He added that older people are downsizing and are also looking for apartments.

“There is an increase in that need and demand for efficiencies,” Kaiser said, referring to studio apartments.
The commission recommended to the Huntingburg Common Council that the housing project receive a 10-year tax abatement at 100 percent of the property taxes for each year. That totals about $28,000 annually, Kaiser said. The council will consider declaring the area as an economic revitalization area and approving the abatement at its meeting next week.

“This is an important step in the process in our effort to being affordable workforce housing to Huntingburg,” Mayor Denny Spinner said. “We’re following the process needed to make this happen.”

Indianapolis developer Paragus Group will construct three buildings, two of them two stories and one that is three stories.

A couple variances will be need to be issued, for the size of the studio apartments and parking requirements. Also, the area needs to be rezoned from its current heavy industrial designation. The Huntingburg Advisory Planning Commission and Huntingburg Board of Zoning Appeals will hear those requests next week.

Gary Ritz of Paragus sent Spinner information about the type of housing that is being proposed. Since 2010, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has approved 168 projects for tax credits; of those, 26 have included studio apartments.

Spinner said that in a local housing study, two major employers in Huntingburg talked about the need for affordable housing to attract workers for their entry-level positions. “They expressed a great concern about having rental properties of this size and nature available to them,” he said.

As part of the Stellar Community designation, $1.5 million in tax credits have been earmarked for Huntingburg to create workforce housing in the city. Paragus was going to seek the credits last year for a housing project for the WTH building in downtown Huntingburg. But that application was withdrawn after citizens and business owners opposed the project’s location on Fourth Street.

The abatement as well as the tax credits are crucial components to this new project, Kaiser said. “This project doesn’t get done if tax credits aren’t issued,” he said.

The council will consider the abatement request at its meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22. The planning commission will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 and the zoning appeals board at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23. All meetings will be held in the council chambers at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.




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