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Credits granted for apartments; soil tests underway for complex


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An abandoned foundry site near the center of Columbus has cleared an important financial step leading to its redevelopment, while environmental testing is underway as city officials work to find new uses for the property.

The former Golden Castings property on 10th Street has received $971,161 in affordable housing tax credits, worth about $10 million over the next 10 years to fund an apartment complex proposal from Jonesboro Investments Corp.

Carl Malysz, the city’s director of community development, said public/private partnerships would begin turning the blighted area — one of the largest open areas in the central city at 12.8 acres — into a productive use.

The city learned last Thursday that the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority awarded the tax credits to the Gateway Apartments project.

Malysz called the tax credits a key domino in making sure that Golden foundry site redevelopment continues.

The city has pledged a 10-year property tax abatement and earmarked $55,000 in local Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to install curb and sidewalk improvements in the public right-of-way around the perimeter of the project site.

“The foundry, since it was shut down in 2002, has been nothing but a source of consternation for this area of the city,” Malysz said.

“This is a really important step, and it’s phenomenal news.”

It would also help address a key community need.

What’s next

  • The Gateway Apartments project, a 60-unit affordable housing apartment complex, will be presented to the Columbus City Planning department for consideration late this month or in early April.
  • If all necessary approvals are received, construction on the eastern five acres of the former Golden Castings foundry site could begin as soon as late summer or early fall. Developer Jonesboro Investments Corp. plans to invest $10.2 million in the project.
  • In the meantime, Columbus planning officials will await environmental testing results from core drilling conducted last week on the site. WDG Construction Group is planning a $13 million investment to locate an 80-bed assisted living and memory care facility on five acres on the west side of the Golden Castings property.

An August housing survey presented to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission showed a need for more affordable housing, indicating as many as 40 percent of Columbus rental households were rent-burdened and 17 percent were extremely rent-burdened. Rent-burdened households spend 30 percent or more of their household income on rent and utilities; extremely rent-burdened households spend 50 percent.

Gateway is an affordable-housing apartment complex proposed for the east side of the foundry site. Developer Jonesboro Investments Corp., of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, wants to invest $10.2 million to build a 60-unit apartment building on about five acres there, Malysz said. The apartments would be a mix of two- and three-bedroom units. The company had been turned down twice before for the tax credits.

Gateway also qualified for an additional Indiana Housing and Community Development Fund Loan of $500,000.

The purpose of the tax credits is to provide an incentive for private developers and investors to build affordable rental housing, whether new construction, adaptive reuse or rehabs of existing buildings.

How it would work

Tim Morgan, president of Jonesboro Investments, explained that the tax credits will provide the equity to build the apartments. Morgan’s company will market the tax credits to a single investor, most likely a large national bank or insurance company. By selling the credits to an investor, the developer reduces the amount of money that might have to be borrowed to complete the project.

Because the affordable housing tax credits offer lower debt, the developer can offer lower rents to tenants. Investors receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their federal tax liability each year for 10 years based on the amount invested. The tax credit buyer is a passive investor in the project, meaning the buyer will not operate or own the project.

Gateway will be working with local partner agency Thrive Alliance on the project, Morgan said.

Thrive Alliance is considered an owner of the development because it is the sponsoring agency listed on the tax credit application approved by the state.

Thrive Alliance is a nonprofit social service agency serving Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties. It provides a wide range of social and human service programs, including partnerships that address the shortage of quality affordable housing in Bartholomew County.

Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown asked Morgan to approach Thrive Alliance in fall 2013 to begin the partnership that would create the apartments.

Thrive Alliance has renovated homes in the Lincoln Central neighborhood since 1989. Thrive Alliance’s executive director Mark Lindenlaub said the agency was thrilled to receive the funding.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” Lindenlaub said, referring to past foundry issues of dust and contamination at the site. The redevelopment will lead the neighborhood to being recognized as a desirable place to live in the city, he said.

The Gateway site in Columbus is already zoned for multifamily use but must go through the site approval process as would any city development, Morgan said. The process of presenting the project to city officials for approval will begin late this month or in early April, Morgan said. If all approvals are granted, construction on the apartments could begin in late summer or early fall.

Gateway is one of 15 projects that received the tax credits, to provide nearly 850 additional affordable housing units for Indiana residents, according to the announcement by Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who heads the agency.

High-priority project

This affordable housing project has been a high priority for the city, Brown said.

Receiving the tax credits is a double bonus for the city because it involves redevelopment of a blighted piece of property in an area where the city is focusing on redevelopment and it supports the city’s goal of providing high-quality affordable housing opportunities, she said.

She credited Malysz and strong community support through Thrive Alliance as the difference in making the Columbus tax-credit proposal successful.

The Gateway proposal received the highest number of points among the proposals submitted for this grant cycle, Malysz said.

“The Rental House Tax Credits program is extremely competitive. There were 45 proposals submitted, and only 15 received tax credit awards,” Malysz said. “More often than not, the difference between receiving an award or not is an expression of how badly the community wants it.”

A nearby neighbor, the United Way of Bartholomew County, supports the apartment project, Executive Director Mark Stewart said.

“The project will catalyze additional positive development in the area,” Stewart said. “It will eliminate an eyesore and turn the site into a point of pride.”

Assisted-living project progress

As the Gateway project proceeds, work continues on a proposal from WDG Construction Group to locate an 80-bed assisted-living and memory care facility on five acres on the west side of the Golden Castings property.

The development would be a $13 million investment on the property. Environmental testing in areas outside the Gateway property began Feb. 24, Malysz said.

Core samples from the site, which is covered in concrete rubble and tangled rebar, were to be collected last week and will be sent to a lab for analysis, with results due back by the end of this month, Malysz said. The site also has an empty foundry building. Sampling is being done on areas outside the Gateway development area, as developers did their own environmental analysis.

Forty core samples are being taken, with the state awarding a state Brownfields Assessment Initiative Award of up to $95,632 to test for contaminants and for field work, according to a notification letter from the Indiana Brownfields Program in Indianapolis.

Malysz said the environmental testing has been “the missing piece of the puzzle” for the remainder of the site, and city planners now will be able to detail the nature of any type of contamination.

There is a 10 to 20 percent match for the funding that will be split between WDG and the city. The amount the city will be responsible for will be determined after testing is completed.

Gateway Apartments developers completed their own environmental testing and have a site plan to deal with contamination there, Malysz said. Developers plan to place a foot-high cap over the soil before the apartments are built.

Another three- to four-acre parcel on the foundry site has not been optioned by any developer, Malysz said.

He cautioned that just because the property is labeled a brownfield isn’t a reason to think “it’s the end of the world” as far as environmental contamination.

“Nobody makes a significant investment on a brownfield site — a significant private investment — unless they know what they’re getting into,” he said.

It just means there is prior development on the site that needs to be investigated before a new use can be put in, Malysz said.

Golden Foundry through the years

1915

Walter I. Golden creates Columbus Foundry Co., at 17th and Caldwell Place, and serves as first president.

1924

Company purchases Caldwell and Drakes Ironworks on 10th Street, renames it Golden Foundry.

1929

Company employs 125 workers; daily melt rises to 35 tons.

1943

International Molders and Allied Workers Union organizes employees.

1956

Walter Golden named chairman of the board, serves until 1960.

1958

Stationmaster molding complex installed.

1964

Moldmaster molding complex installed.

1966

Woodward Iron Co. buys Golden Foundry.

1968

Mead Corp. acquires Woodward Iron Co.

1974

Textron Inc. acquires interests in Golden Foundry.

1976

Name changes to Golden Operations.

1980

In March, the company recalls 200 workers laid off in November 1979.

1982

Union officials question Cummins Engine Co.’s decision to fill engine block orders in Brazil rather than from the Golden Foundry.

1985

Company promises to save 363 jobs and add 250 more. Adds 270 by 1987.

1990

American Bailey of Stamford, Conn., buys Golden Operations, through subsidiary called Golden Casting Corp. Employs 526 workers.

1998

Company unveils new $10 million Loramendi core-making machine.

2000

Tests solicited by Arvin Industries show Golden Casting Corp. in violation of federal emissions laws.

2003

Golden ceases operation.

March 2005

KLM National pays $587,000 for the property.

July 2006

KLM had salvaged about 7,000 tons of material from the site. The city holds public hearings for a redevelopment-options study of the property.

October 2012

City staff conduct public hearings to update redevelopment-options study. The City Council approves the update to the foundry site study.

March 2013

KLM National seeks approval from the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to operate a recycling center on the western 8.3 acres of the 12.8-acre former Golden site.

June 25, 2013

Plans for a recycling center at the site of the former Golden Castings foundry are denied by the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals, which agreed with concerns from neighbors that the developer and property owner, KLM National LLC, could not prove the project would not be injurious to neighboring properties, and that it would not be consistent with the surrounding zoning district and the recommendations of the comprehensive plan.

January

City officials hope two new reuse possibilities could redevelop the site, including Gateway Apartments, a proposed $10.2 million affordable housing complex on about a five-acre parcel and WDG Construction Group, which wants to build an assisted living center and memory care center on another part of the property.

February

Gateway Apartments and developer Jonesboro Investments Corp., Chagrin Falls, Ohio, receive $971,161 in affordable housing tax credits, renewable for 10 years, which will provide the equity to build the 60-unit apartment complex on the site.

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