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Townhome project progressing

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:44 PM

The country's top affordable housing developer is about to be a step closer to building a more than $6 million townhome complex in Norwalk.

The NRP Group, which already has a senior housing complex in the Norwalk Commons area, is looking to build a 48-unit "townhome community" on the north side of Stower Lane, east of the intersection of U.S. 250 and Ohio 13. The development would feature 12 two-bedroom units, 24 three-bedrooms units and 12 four-bedroom units in eight "sixplexes."

"I think that this project will fit in very well with the Norwalk Commons footprints," said Jennifer Baus, NRP development project manager.

The townhomes will be leased to households whose annual incomes are 60 percent or less of the area median gross income, which was about $42,000 in 2006. Rent will range from the low $300s to $720 per month.

"Getting just the right residents is important to us," Baus said. Requirements include earning twice the monthly rent, having no criminal background or history of evictions and a favorable credit report.

Because the project will be for lower income households, NRP is applying for state housing tax credits. A resolution from city council in support of the project is a key part of the application. Council is expected to approve such a resolution at its June 5 meeting.

In a letter to NRP, Mayor Sue Lesch wrote: "We believe that there is a need for more affordable housing in this area and support your efforts to fulfill this need."

Because the application process for tax credits is so competitive, Baus said even if council did approve the resolution, if it also approved a resolution for a different housing project called Applewood Reserves, the Norwalk Townhomes did not stand a good chance of being approved this year.

However, Lesch said the Applewood Reserves project, which would be on Old State Road between Ohio 18 and U.S. 20, is not ready to go forward and would not be applying for the tax credits until next year. In that scenario, Baus said it was "likely" the project would be approved by the state.

If the project gets the state go-ahead, NRP would be looking at a construction start date of spring 2008 with completion by the end of 2009. The tax credits would last for 15 years with an option to extend them for another 15 years.

"NRP is in this for the long haul, we're committed, we're not going anywhere," Baus said.

NRP is responsible for the entire project from development to construction to ownership and management. The developer, which was founded in 1994 and has more than 150 developments in Ohio and seven other states, was named the nation's best affordable housing developer in the May edition of the magazine Affordable Housing Finance.

"Often it is very difficult to manage a single family home," Baus said, adding there were benefits to having multiple units in a single building. "They are much more easily managed. There is no maintenance care. That's one of the strong points ... but they will be beautiful when they're done."

While the project is located within the city limits, it is in the Berlin-Milan, not in the Norwalk, school district.

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