Miller School project among tax-credit recipients

Friday, February 28, 2014
Greencastle's old Miller School, last used as an educational facility in 2010 as the school corporation's offices, is scheduled to become 30 senior living housing units in a project due to receive $681,399 in tax credits, the state announced Thursday.

Indiana is awarding more than $12 million in rental housing tax credits to 15 multi-family housing developments throughout the state, including the redevelopment of the Miller School site in Greencastle, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced Thursday.

Statewide project activities include new construction, rehabilitation, adaptive reuse (conversion of existing structures), and the preservation of historic buildings funded through the Internal Revenue Service Section 42 Rental Housing Tax Credit (RHTC) program.

The Miller Asbury Apartment project at Miller School, 522 E. Anderson St., has been awarded $681,399 in tax credits, the lieutenant governor's office reported.

Milestone Ventures' proposal to convert the school building -- last used for classes in 1980 -- into 30 senior living units already has approvals from the Greencastle City Council, Board of Zoning Appeals and Board of Public Works and Safety.

Since the Milestone proposal has been contingent on receiving the tax credits awarded Thursday, the actual sale and transfer of property to the developers from the city has yet to take place.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) administers and manages the federal tax credits, which provide incentives for private developers to further the affordable housing choices available throughout Indiana.

The 2014 RHTC allocation totaling $12.1 million will fund nearly 850 housing units and could leverage up to $109 million in private development capital.

Lt. Gov. Ellspermann, who chairs the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), said the rental tax credit program "is an effective way to leverage private investment to provide affordable housing in communities throughout Indiana."

"The projects approved today demonstrate how the program can be used to rehab existing apartments, convert abandoned commercial structures to apartments or fund new construction," she said. "Many of these projects also support larger community development and neighborhood stabilization efforts."

Last November, IHCDA received 44 RHTC applications requesting more than $36.8 million in tax credits and more than $15 million in supplementary IHCDA funding.

Chuck Heintzelman, one of the Milestone Ventures principals, previously said plans for old school site include 12 one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units for persons age 55 and up or 62 and up.

He also explained that his firm's proposal would not only renovate the old school building but also add a completely new two-story wing (with matching brick) to the southeast side of the structure.

That will require the razing of the two additions to the southeast side of Miller School, areas not deemed historic and last actively used when the site was occupied by the Area 30 Career Center.

"We plan to redevelop the school building, preserving the historic front portion and demolishing the two additions," Heintzelman told the BZA last fall, "preserving the look of Miller School, so as you drive down Anderson Street, you still see that familiar facade."

The main entrance to the apartments will be in the rear, off the parking lot, rather than through the historic front along Anderson Street.

Back in October, the Greencastle City Council unanimously approved a $250,000 purchase price offer from Milestone Ventures, a figure considered well above the appraisal value (the average of two appraisals) on the Miller School building and nearly three-acre parcel of real estate adjacent to Greencastle's Robe-Ann Park.

All five original bidders on the site offered in excess of the $40,000 real estate appraisal the city had received on the property.

At the Oct. 8 City Council session, Heintzelman said he perceived a 12-month construction timeline with the project beginning in October 2014 and being completed during October 2015.

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