New apartment complex may be funded by TIF


JASPER — If all goes well, a new apartment complex with affordable housing will be built near the Vincennes University Jasper campus in 2022.

The Jasper Plan Commission approved a resolution Wednesday stating that the complex, called the University Heights project, conforms to the Impact Jasper Comprehensive Plan after Jasper Developer Ruger Kerstiens gave a presentation on the project. The project was already approved by the Jasper Redevelopment Commission and was passed further along.

The complex, which will have 80 units consisting mostly of studio apartments and some two-bedroom and one-bathroom units, will be built with direct access to the university campus but will only be partially designated for students. The majority will be open to the public.

“It's not only for Vincennes University, it’s also for the community of Jasper,” Kerstiens said. “We’re going to continue to keep building new apartments at attainable prices.”

In addition to the apartment units, the project also includes plans for a new shelter house and basketball court.

Kerstiens said the community will benefit from the project because it will provide more affordable housing in the area, which can be hard to find, and will hopefully lead to more development projects on the southeast side of town.

He also said it will be a place where interns and temporary workers can be housed for a few months at a time.

“Every summer I receive many calls from large companies and their interns that say, ‘We need four-month, five-month leases,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult for employers and interns coming in or temporary workers to find housing.”

For more than a year now, Kerstiens has been working with the university on the project. He said university staff are looking forward to the project because it will encourage more long-term students on campus, which has been a goal for a long time, he said.

However, Kerstiens and other developers have ultimately decided that the project is not feasible without a Tax Increment Financing district. TIFs are used to finance redevelopment projects using the anticipation of future tax revenue.

“I’ve recreated this deal in my head it seems like 100 different ways,” he said. “With construction costs the way they are now and the prices that we agreed on with Vincennes University and what the market can feasibly develop, it’s getting extremely difficult with purchasing land at the cost it is now and then with construction materials.”

Kerstiens said the total investment cost, with the apartments and additional projects such as the shelter house and basketball court, will be about $5.5 million. More details about the potential TIF will be shared at future Jasper meetings, as this was a basic initial presentation.

“It’s a considerable amount of investment over on the southeast side of town, and hopefully it’ll drive others to start considering that side of town, as well, and get some more development over there,” he said.

Kerstiens said the project will be built in two phases — the first to build a three-story complex of studio apartments and the second to build the rest, including the two-bedroom, one-bathroom units. If not enough units are leased after the first phase, he said, then the second phase may have to be postponed.

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