by Martha Elson , @MarthaElson_cj –
Prospect city leaders have agreed to spend up to $100,000 in legal fees to fight a proposed 198-unit, affordable-living apartment complex for seniors called Prospect Cove off River Road, just outside the city limits.
It would be “way out of character” and add to heavy traffic in the area, Prospect Mayor John Evans said. “It’s a big project any way you cut it.”
Concerns also have been raised about income limits for potential renters that will be imposed under a federal housing program that entitles the developer to affordable housing tax credits, a potential increase in crime and adverse effect on property values.
The four-story building, which would extend in different sections around the 9.9-acre property and have parking for more than 200 vehicles, would be across an entrance road from a Kroger fuel station at Timber Ridge Road and across Timber Ridge from a nearby shopping center with a Kroger store, restaurants and other businesses. It also would be across from the upscale Smithfield Greene condominiums closer to River Road.
LDG Development in Louisville, which proposes the apartments, applied recently to Louisville planners for a zoning change from residential and commercial to all multifamily residential for the site, listed in the application as 6500 Forest Cove Lane and 7301 River Road. A formal application was filed after LDG held a neighborhood meeting to discuss the proposal Sept. 26 at First Baptist Church of Prospect on U.S. Hwy. 42.
“There’s absolutely no evidence to support property value declines or increased crime,” Michael Gross with LDG said in a recent interview. “The rezoning process should be about the development. It shouldn’t be about the people who live in the development. Everybody deserves a quality place to live.”
A number of people objected to the proposal at the Sept. 26 neighborhood meeting, according to a written transcript posted on the city of Prospect’s website. The Prospect city council unanimously passed a resolution Oct. 17 stating the city’s opposition to the proposal and has two petitions available for people to sign at City Hall, 9200 U.S. Hwy. 42, Evans said. One is to oppose the development and the other is to request an evening public hearing on the rezoning request for the project when it gets a formal review.
“It doesn’t sound to me like plopping folks down in this area of Prospect with very limited public transportation that we have out here is going to really be fair to them,” Rande Swann said at the Sept. 26 neighborhood meeting, according to the transcript.
LDG says in its rezoning application that, “Although the site is not served by TARC with anything other than an express route, the applicant is also researching providing additional transport services to its residents.” LDG representatives also maintain that many residents of the proposed Prospect Cove apartments are likely to come from the Prospect area.
The application also says that a portion of the property already was approved for medical and multifamily buildings of the same height and that the proposal complies with Louisville’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, which calls for “appropriate/inclusive” and “variable-price” housing throughout Jefferson County. About half of the property would be open space between the building and River Road.
Developments such as Prospect Cove are typically financed with tax-exempt bonds and housing tax credits, Gross said at the Sept. 26 meeting. People 55 and older are classed as seniors, and the primary tenant’s income may not be above 80 percent of the area median income, Gross and LDG’s Chris Dischinger said in an interview. For the metropolitan Louisville statistical area, that would be $37,520 for one resident and $42,880 for a two-person household, they said. Evans, the Prospect mayor, had somewhat lower figures.
Federal housing vouchers that provide a federal subsidy for rent payments would be accepted at Prospect Cove, Gross and Dischinger say.
Plans call for 178 two-bedroom units and 20 one-bedroom at Prospect Cove. No one under 18 is allowed to live there, and both one- and two-bedroom units typically would have one senior resident or a couple occupying them, and in some cases a younger caregiver might also live there, LDG representatives say.
The cost for the two-bedroom units would be capped at about $1,000 per month. “These apartments, obviously, are for rent, and everybody who moves in has to have a source of income and can pay the rent, and it’s all verified,” Cliff Ashburner, who represents LDG, said at the neighborhood meeting.
People at the meeting also expressed concerns about unauthorized people living at the site and spillover parking into the shopping center. LDG has about 900 senior units in Texas and Kentucky combined, including ones in Louisville and Georgetown, and about 5,000 affordable units for all ages around the country, said Christi Lanier-Robinson, a public relations representative for LDG.
Evans, the Prospect mayor, said the Prospect Cove development could have an especially big impact on residents of Smithfield Greene, where he said one owner is now having trouble selling a home. Online information recently at homeslouisvilleky.com said two units were sold at Smithfield Green through the first seven months of 2016 — a larger one for $420,000 and the other for $316,000.
Questions also were raised at the Sept. 26 meeting about a Nov. 12, 2014 Indianapolis Star story saying the “troubled Cambridge Station Apartments” in west Indianapolis owned by a partnership affiliated with LDG faced a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit in Marion Superior Court filed the month before by Fannie Mae federal loan guarantee agency. A judge was asked to appoint a receiver to take over the complex after a local lawyer for Fannie Mae, James Carlberg, said in the story that the complex’s owner defaulted on two loans on which it owed $17.6 million.
LDG had bought and begun renovating the apartments about eight years before, after receiving $11 million in multifamily housing revenue bonds financed through the city, the story said. In 2010, the Indianapolis Housing Agency “demanded” that LDG repay $400,500 in federal Section 8 housing payments because of violations, the story said.
In response to questions, Ashburner said, “The simple answer is that was a redevelopment project with about 450 units . . . LDG reached an agreement with the Indiana Housing Authority, and, you know executed that agreement to their satisfaction,” according to the meeting transcript.
“I think it’s very easy to look at one” situation, but the whole “portfolio” would tell a different story, Lanier-Robinson said.