Project clears hurdle; city to issue bonds for assisted living facility

City leaders have agreed to support issuing up to $15.5 million in revenue bonds for a proposed affordable assisted living facility on the city’s east side.

The Columbus City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to pass a resolution acknowledging the city supports issuing revenue bonds for the development known as Vivera Senior Living at 1971 State St.

Plans for the property, where the Bartholomew County Annex stood until its razing in December 2015, calls for a four-story, 114-unit complex. It would be developed by Vivera Senior Living of Columbus LLC and JLB Columbus GP LLC, said Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator with the city.

The Marian Group, based in Louisville, Kentucky, created JLB Columbus GP LLC as part of the development that would bring 52 efficiency and 62 one-bedroom units, Hilber said.

City Councilman Dascal Bunch, whose district includes the State Street project site, voted against the bonding.

While he is not personally opposed to the project, Bunch said many constituents in his district were not aware of the proposal and did not have an opportunity to voice their opinions.

“People over there should have the opportunity to voice their opinion,” Bunch said.

The revenue bonds from the city, along with non-competitive tax credits from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, would help finance the $24 million project, said Jacob Brown, founder and principal of The Marian Group, who appeared before the council.

Brown was also joined during the meeting by Matthew Carr, a partner with the Quarles & Brady law firm in Indianapolis; and Scott Rolfs, managing director of Ziegler, a Chicago-based investment banking and finance firm.

A market study indicated a demand for 123 to 176 affordable assisted living units in Columbus, Carr said.

The revenue bonds, which would be in the city’s name, were sought by The Marian Group because of the city’s tax-exempt status, Hilber said. She said the city would not be liable once the bonds are purchased.

The council had received a favorable recommendation to issue revenue bonds for the project from the city’s Economic Development Commission, which had reviewed the proposal earlier in the day on Tuesday. Council members will consider issuing bonds for the project in October, Hilber said.

The Marian Group also intends to seek a tax abatement from the city for the project, expected to go before the council Aug. 21, Brown said.

The Marian Group looked at several locations in southern Indiana before selecting Columbus, Brown said, noting that the development will result in the creation of 65 jobs.

A timetable calls for construction on the project to begin in November with the facility set to open in February 2020.

The 2.37-acre property being sought by the company is owned by Columbus Regional Health.

“We love the community and we think it will be a great opportunity,” he said.

City Councilman Frank Miller said the proposed development is something that Columbus needs.

“It will be a great asset,” Miller said.

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Columbus City Council will consider issuing revenue bonds  in October for a proposed affordable assisted living facility. The Marian Group is also seeking the designation of the proposed site at 1971 State St. as an Economic Revitalization Area.

The designation of an ERA is required in order to receive a tax abatement, which the company is also requesting. The council will consider the tax abatement request during its Aug. 21 meeting.