July 31, 2014

Medina
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Brunswick housing plan finds support

BRUNSWICK — City Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee members indicated their support Thursday of an $8 million development plan that would provide 54 affordable housing units for seniors at the southwest corner of Pearl Road and Southwick Boulevard.

The project, called Southwick Manor, still has some hurdles to overcome, mainly in financing, which leaders hope to secure through tax credits.

Artist’s renderings of Southwick Manor, provided by Miller Valentine Group and Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority, show what a senior apartment complex at the southeast corner of Pearl Road and Southwick Boulevard might look like in Brunswick. (COURTESY IMAGE)

The plan has been years in the making. Brunswick and the Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority originally identified a need for more affordable senior housing in 2005.

Council members said they plan to lend their support and hope the project can get some financial backing.

“I’ve said from the beginning let’s run with this,” At-large Councilman Brian Ousley said.

In 2007, the authority began applying for financial help to make the project a reality, said Skip Sipos, the authority’s executive director. Sipos has applied three times for senior housing aid in the Brunswick Lake development area and four times at Southwick Boulevard. Each time the authority was denied, he said.

This time, the housing authority is trying to get funding from a new source — the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which supports Ohio developers working to provide affordable housing.

“In 26 years, we haven’t tried to get this funding for seniors,” Sipos said.

The proposed Southwick Manor Apartments would be a 54-unit apartment building for seniors age 55 and older. The housing authority would be responsible for administering the rent, which would be kept low so seniors earning 60 percent or less than Medina County’s median income could afford it, Sipos said.

Only those earning less than 60 percent, or what amounts to $30,600 for a two-person household, would qualify, he said.

Sipos assured committee members that authority would not be able to change lease requirements for 30 years and said the authority has a 60-year track record of success in the county providing affordable housing to low-income residents. The agency provides affordable housing options and the Housing Choice voucher program, also known as Section 8.

The housing authority would have 24-hour maintenance on call and be responsible for upkeep at Southwick Manor.

In addition to support for the development plan, Sipos also asked Council to approve legislation that simply states it lends its support to the project, which would help with the application to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

“The funding source is extremely competitive, that’s why securing every possible point in the application process is so important,” Sipos said.

The property at that corner already is zoned for senior housing and is owned by the Brunswick Housing Development Corp., a nonprofit affiliated with the authority.

“There’s not much to argue with this plan,” said Ward 1 Councilman Mike Abella, committee chairman.

The housing authority must submit a formal application to the finance agency, including the architectural drawings and development plans by Feb. 21.

Council as a whole will take up the development plan and a resolution showing support when members meet Jan. 14.

The finance agency will make a decision on funding by June 24, and if approved, Sipos said authority could break ground on the project at the end of 2013.

Sipos said he likes the chances this time for securing funding because state leaders have a say. Medina County’s state representatives are Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina.

“Hopefully those guys have some sway there,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.