For the second time, the proposed construction of a downtown affordable housing complex got a favorable recommendation from the county's Area Plan Commission.
The APC on Tuesday again voted unanimously to allow the rezoning of the grain silos at 104 N. First St. owned by Robinson Grain Elevators Inc., from industrial to commercial so that local architect Andy Myszak and his development team could proceed with applying for funding to build Riverview Lofts, a multiple-unit affordable housing complex there.
The design, however, is a bit different than what was presented to the plan commission a year ago.
Because the city is applying for one of the state's coveted Stellar Communities grants — a designation that would significantly lessen the competition for the federal funding Riverview Lofts needs to move forward — Myszak has taken the once three-story building and made it a four-story structure instead.
Stellar opens up a variety of funding avenues for various quality-of-life projects, but it primarily focuses on improving a city's downtown area. So Myszak increased the number of affordable units to 32 (from 22 a year ago) but still with the 10 market rate units on the top floor.
He also increased the parking lot from 80 spots to 90.
The building will include a 2,600-square-foot commercial space on its first floor as well as a theater room for tenants, a community room, a business area with available internet access and computers and a fitness facility as well.
“Just like last year, everything was approved,” Myszak said of the meeting. “I showed them the new plan, and they were all in favor of it.”
Myszak's overall development plan last year also included the construction of 22 single-family houses on empty lots throughout the city. Since Riverview Lofts has been expanded, the new plan now calls for just 11 of those.
That part of the plan, however, doesn't require action on behalf of the APC.
The city will find out in October if it's been successful in its quest to be named a Stellar community, but even if it does, the funding for Riverview Lofts isn't necessarily automatic, Myszak explained.
He and his development team will still have to apply in November for the same federal tax credits; the Stellar designation, however, makes a successful application far more likely.
For instance, last year Corydon was one of the state's Stellar designees. As a result, a housing project named in the application, one led by Myszak and his team, was successful shortly thereafter in securing the federal tax credits needed to see it build.
The Stellar designation puts Vincennes into an entirely different category, and instead of competing against 67 other communities, it will be up against just two.
And these are the same federal tax credits used to pay for the renovation that led to Clark's Crossing downtown, transforming old Vincennes Community School Corp. administrative building into a 47-unit senior affordable housing complex.
That housing complex opened to its first tenants in early 2015.
But to complete the zoning change, Myszak will need to also get approval from the city council come Monday night as well as secure a conditional use permit for a multi-family dwelling from the Board of Zoning Appeals.
That group will next meet on Oct. 5.
Myszak's application is due Nov. 6, and he will know by the end of February of Riverview Lofts' status.
Ultimately, though, the zoning change — and the sale, for that matter — is contingent upon Myszak securing the funding. If he doesn't, the zoning will remain as industrial.