Commission approves rezoning for workforce housing

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.


HUNTINGBURG — Paragus Group continued its effort Monday to build workforce housing in Huntingburg.

Representatives of the Indianapolis company talked to the Huntingburg Plan Commission Monday evening about rezoning the land where the housing complex will sit, 419 N. Washington St., which is the former Wagon Works site.

The commission recommended that the Huntingburg Common Council rezone the land from heavy industrial to light commercial.

The council will consider the request at its meeting tonight, set for 7 p.m. at City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St. The council will also consider a request to declare the area as an economic revitalization area and consider approving a tax abatement recommended by the Huntingburg Economic Development Commission. The recommended abatement would be for 10 years at 100 percent of the property taxes for each year. That totals about $28,000 annually Paragus representatives said after last week’s economic development commission meeting.

The exact design of the $5.8-million, 56-unit housing project is still in the concept stages, Gary Ritz of Paragus told the plan commission Monday. But the site will have 28 studio, 24 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments.

Current property owner OFS Brands will demolish the building on the site in September and Paragus plans to build three housing units on the site, along with a building that will have a community room. Paragus hopes to get the $1.5 million in housing tax credits the state has designated for workforce housing in Huntingburg as part of the city’s Stellar Community designation.

The rent for the apartments is limited based on state standards for the tax credits, Ritz said. He estimated that it will cost between $230 and $350 for a studio apartment, $470 to $530 for a one-bedroom apartment and $600 for a two-bedroom apartment. Residents will be responsible for their own utilities, which is just electric, and the owner will provide trash service.

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

The site will have bike racks, a fenced dog-walking area, a picnic area, a parking space for each apartment and on-site management. Each apartment will have curtains or blinds; a porch, patio or balcony; a garbage disposal; dishwasher; and hookups for cable and for a washer and dryer.

Based on state restrictions, an apartment can have only two people per bedroom. So the number of people living in a studio or one-bedroom is limited to two people and the number allowed to live in two-bedroom apartment is four people.

Tenants’ income is also limited by state standards; those limits are changed each year, Ritz said. As of May 1, the maximum verifiable income is $28,440 for one person, $32,520 for two people, $36,600 for three people and $40,620 for four people.

Several nearby residents attended the planning commission’s meeting Monday with questions about the project. They asked about restrictions on the number of pets an owner could have, if the development would narrow the alley just south of the development, and if people must have a job to get an apartment, referencing people on welfare.

Ritz said that people must have verifiable income that meets the state guidelines to qualify for an apartment. Two pets would be allowed per household, the type and size of pets will be restricted and a fee will be charged for having pets.

Planning Director Paul Lake said the city will be staking the southern alleyway to see what width it is supposed to be, so he wasn’t sure if or how the alley would change. But the concern would be taken into account, he said.

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