By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — In an area desperate for affordable housing options, a neighborhood of income-based townhomes could one day spring up outside of downtown Jasper.
Pete Schwiegeraht, senior vice president of development for MVAH Partner’s Midwest Region, mentioned the potential development during a visit to the Jasper Common Council last week.
“We do think there is a need for more workforce housing in the community,” he told the council on Wednesday. “As you may know, along the back side of Vine Street, we have some additional land for a future phase. We are considering when we might best appropriately bring forward that future phase.”
MVAH is an entity that split off from Miller-Valentine Group and now handles both the Jasper Lofts and Vine Street Lofts income-based housing operations. Schwiegeraht further explained that the company’s next construction phase would bring a “different product to the market” to create more diverse housing options.
“We’re thinking we would be doing three- and four-bed townhomes,” he said. “So, all individual units.”
He said the development would be “almost just like single-family homes attached to each other,” potentially linked in series of six or eight units. If the project moves forward, each individual space could cover between 1,300 and 1,400 square feet, and at the end of a 15-year period, residents would have the option to purchase their home.
“Another neat thing that has occurred in tax credits that I think will open up the bandwidth a little bit and help it so that we don’t have to turn as many folks away, is we can now target up to 80% AMI (area median income),” Schwiegeraht said of the wider resident base the homes could target.
Councilmen Earl Schmitt and Kevin Manley immediately voiced their opinions, both saying it would be great. One of the challenges MVAH’s other developments face stems from the more-restricted income requirements they carry, which has forced the company to turn away aspiring tenants who make too much money.
In a text message, Schwiegeraht said that MVAH’s internal discussions are too preliminary to further talk about at this point. He told the council that ultimately, MVAH is thinking the company could build “20, 30-plus townhomes” near its already established housing spaces. That would equate to another $5 million to $6 million in development.
If MVAH decides to pursue the townhome project, he said the company would request local government support in the form of a tax abatement.
“I think the unique factor with this project that you’re talking about is the lease-to-own,” said Mayor Dean Vonderheide. “It provides some asset value to somebody that’s maybe not got the funds to begin with, but can lease it over a period of time. Get a start.”
An April 1 Herald story focused on how MVAH planned to construct a 56-unit housing complex comprised mostly of townhomes on the northwest side of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital property in Huntingburg. MVAH would partner with Tri-Cap on that $11 million project.
The plan did not receive housing tax credits from the Indiana Internal Revenue Service’s Rental Housing Tax Credit Program, but Schwiegeraht said at the time that the company was “hopeful to retry.” He did not immediately reply this morning to a request for an updated comment on the status of the Huntingburg project.