Tax abatement granted for project

An Indianapolis developer has been granted a tax abatement from the city to redevelop the former St. Bartholomew Catholic Church building and property as an affordable housing project.

On Tuesday Columbus City Council unanimously approved a 10-year tax abatement for TWG Development LLC as part of a $6.5 million investment to construct workforce development housing.

The project, which would be located in the eastern block of Sycamore Street between Seventh and Eighth streets, would consist of about 60 apartment units, said Tony Knoble, president of TWG Development LLC, in a letter to the city. The abatement is worth about $241,000 in tax savings.

The site was declared an Economic Revitalization Area last year, with the structures being vacant since 2001, said Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator with the city. Hilber appeared with Jonathan Ehlke, development director with TWG Development, during Tuesday’s meeting.

Under the proposed plan, the former church building would be developed into community space, while the school would be torn down. The surrounding buildings would be demolished and developed into one- and two-bedroom units that will be rented at 60 percent of the average median income, Hilber said.

That would mean a one-bedroom unit would be rented for $675 a month compared to the market rate for apartments in Columbus starting at $1,000 a month Hilber said.

Ehlke said the tax abatement will be used to support TWG Development’s application for tax credits submitted to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority next month. Ehlke said the project is dependent on receiving the credits and believes his company will receive funding since it was granted money in the last three rounds from the authority.

If the tax credits are granted, construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2018 with the project finished by the end of 2019, Ehlke said.

“We’re excited, and we hope it works out,” Ehlke said.

A previous developer, The Woda Group, had planned to restore the church into community and artist space as part of a proposed project known as Bartholomew on Sycamore last year. However, the development was among three proposed affordable housing and senior living complexes in Columbus that were denied state tax credit financing.

Council members also heard details from a second Indianapolis-based developer that also is seeking a tax abatement for a separate affordable housing development.

Herman & Kittle Properties Inc. has proposed building 40 apartment units as part of a $6.2 million workforce development housing project known as the Lofts at Ashford. It would be located at 10th Street and Hutchins Avenue across from Ashford Park, a 209-unit apartment complex under construction that also is being developed by Herman & Kittle Properties Inc.

Currently, the vacant site is a 1.6 acre Brownfield that will require remediation in order to remove any existing deed restrictions associated with the development of a multi-family community, according to the tax abatement application filed with the city. The company plans to do an assessment of the property since it is located near the former Golden Foundry site.

The Lofts at Ashford project would bring 16 one-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units, said Hilber, who appeared with Caroline Diamond, senior development analyst with Herman & Kittle Properties Inc. A one-bedroom apartment would rent at $632 a month.

The tax abatement, if approved, will be used to support Herman and Kittle Properties Inc.’s application for rental housing tax credits that will be submitted to the IHCDA on Nov. 6, said Michael Rodriguez, development director with the company, in a letter to the city. That would result in a tax savings of $230,000, Hilber said.

Diamond said the project was developed after hearing from the city of a need for more workforce developing housing. She added that if the company is granted tax credits by the state, construction would begin next year and take 11 months to complete.

Council members unanimously passed a resolution declaring the vacant site across from Ashford Park as an economic revitalization area. In a two-step process, the council will consider a final resolution for the ERA and a tax abatement request for the project during its Oct. 17 meeting.

What's next

Columbus City Council will consider a final resolution for an economic revitalization area and tax abatement requests from Herman & Kittle Properties Inc. for a proposed housing project at 10th Street and Hutchins Avenue at 6 p.m. Oct. 17.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or