Apex needs #036;2 million housing grant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 27, 2000

Apex will go to the Hormel Foundation’s June 28 meeting with a request for a $2 million housing grant .

Saturday, May 27, 2000

Apex will go to the Hormel Foundation’s June 28 meeting with a request for a $2 million housing grant … if they can first find an additional $750,000 as well as answer the question of how the housing project will specifically address Austin’s housing needs.

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"Writing up a clear definition of how this project responds to the need expressed in the Maxfield Housing study won’t be difficult," Development Corporation of Austin Director George Brophy said after Wednesday’s Apex meeting, referring to a housing study commissioned by the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority last year. Brophy acts as coordinator, point man and resource person for the group. "Coming up with the gap in funding is another story."

Brophy said that the request for the $750,000 would be a loan, not a grant, request and would be paid back over a period of time. Asking the city and county for matching loans was a suggested possibility at the meeting.

The $750,000 is a relatively small funding gap, considering the total cost of the proposed "Murphy’s Creek" housing development is now estimated at nearly $14 million. Funding will come – and has been tentatively promised – from a variety of sources, including the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, private sources and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund.

"We want to have the funding gap accounted for before we go to the Foundation," Mayor Bonnie Rietz said. Rietz is a member of the Apex executive committee and the person who recruited the volunteers who make up Apex. "The executive committee is going to meet June 8 to figure out a plan for finding the funding; I think we’re going to try to secure the funding ourselves, rather than put throwing that back to the housing committee."

Other members of the executive committee include Pat Ray, Jerry Anfinson and Glenn Baker.

"We all agree that [the development] meets a lot of needs, but if I were a member of the Foundation, I would want all everything written out and detailed," Baker said.

As proposed, the Murphy’s Creek development will include 88 townhomes and 36 single family homes: 14 of those would be rent to own and 22 market rate homes. The development, as proposed, would be located off Fourth Street NW, at the city’s Lone Oak property, most recently the home of the Pacelli Corn Maze.

One of the goals of the development is to be "economically integrated." The units will be a mixture of market rate and "affordable" units, for rent, purchase and rent-to-own. Residents would be required to meet certain income guidelines to live in the affordable units. It is an idea that has proven itself on a smaller scale in Austin, at the Whittier Townhomes, which are also a mix of affordable and market rate.

At Whittier, the affordable or moderate rate units, on the other hand, went for $435, plus electric, per month for a two-bedroom with attached garage and $495, plus electric, for a three-bedroom with attached garage when the townhomes were first built.

In order to qualify for Whittier’s moderate rentals, gross household income could not exceed the following guidelines: one person – $17, 460; two people – $19,980; four people – $24,960; five people – $26,940; and six people – $28,980. Those figures were based on 60 percent of the Mower County average income.

Murphy’s Creek is being developed by the same company that built Whittier, Podawiltz Developers, and it would be run along the same lines.

However, the Foundation donation is the lynchpin that will trigger all the other grants and donations.

"That two million is leverage for the $13 million," Housing committee co-chair Paul Johnson said.