A representative with Gardner Capitol addressed the Bonne Terre City Council Monday night giving a presentation of proposed apartments at the Old Orchard property.

Gardner Capitol Senior Vice President of Development Mike Williams said he was coming to the council to seek a resolution of support for an affordable housing project for the city of Bonne Terre.

“Our proposed project site is at the corner of Stormy Lane and Old Orchard Road,” said Williams. “We are proposing that you provide us with a resolution of support in our efforts to obtain tax credit funding from the Missouri Housing Development Commission for the development of 48 units.”

Williams said while working with the real estate agent it was determined they needed to condense their site from eight acres down to five acres and they were able to get it down.

“We have eight units of one bedroom, 16 units of two bedroom, 16 units of three and eight units of four bedrooms on the plans,” said Williams. “These are two-story buildings with four units on the ground floor and four units on the second floor. There would be a middle staircase up to the upstairs units.”

Williams said they are big enough, not overly big, but they aren’t too small either. He added they feel for a project this size the apartments will be very suitable for families living in the Bonne Terre area.

“I want to draw attention to the outside plans that shows the outside building elevations,” said Williams. “We are still developing this project, the financial models are coming together and I am still waiting on construction pricing on preliminary ideas we have.”

Williams explained they do intend to put brick on the building and a lot of times they do Hardie Fiber Cement Siding as the siding product. He said they are investigating an LP Smart Side product that they believe is not only cheaper than fiber cement, but it is actually a better product with a better warranty.

“We are not committing yet, but we will be ready before March 16 to commit to every component,” said Williams. “What we say we are going to build to the Missouri Housing Development Commission is what we are committed to build.”

Williams said he wanted the council to see each of the building types and that they look similar, with a nice amount of brick and a decent landscape plan associated with them. He reiterated they were seeking a resolution of support.

He provided each council member with a packet describing the company and what they have planned.

“Bonne Terre has not received an allocation of tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission ever,” said Williams. “Therefore I think it’s time. I think you should feel it’s time. I think that if our state senator from here, our state rep from here and Jefferson City knew you guys wanted this project, we have an outstanding chance of getting funding for this and providing a nice place to live for the citizens of Bonne Terre.”

Williams explained this project is intended for individuals who make 80 percent of the area median income or less. That figure calculates out to be $46,800 for your typical family of four.

“If your family is making $46,800, you’re not poor, you are a hard-working family and are trying to make it,” said Williams. “This is not a handout program, it’s more of a step up.”

Bonne Terre City Accountant Greg Shinn asked what percentage of the project would be for developer fees.

Williams said it would probably be 12 percent and 2 or 3 percent of that would be deferred over the 15-year period and paid out over the life of the project.

Shinn asked since there isn’t a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) or not for profit, such as East Missouri Action Agency, getting part of those fees, if there was a way for the city to get part of those developer fees as an incentive.

Williams said he would look into it and let Shinn know when he finds out.

Mayor Brandon Hubbard asked what the units would typically rent for and Williams said right now they are underwriting them at $500 for the one bedroom, $600 for the two, $700 for the three and $800 for the four bedroom.

“Our underwriting models are approximately 32 Excel spreadsheets that all spit out good product and until I get my construction cost in, it is really hard to have a full hard focus on exactly what we are going to generate in revenue,” said Williams. “Also keep in mind that these properties pay their property taxes and it would be a really nice boost for the county and …”

Councilwoman Andrea Richardson interjected and said they would if the city actually had property taxes. The room roared with laughter. 

Both Police Chief Doug Calvert and Fire Chief Dave Pratte asked questions about codes. Williams said nothing would be done without meeting all building codes and regulations. He stressed they would also sit down with both of them to address any concerns.

City Attorney Seth Pegram recommended the proposal go before the planning and zoning board prior to the council putting their weight behind something they don’t know is even possible at this point.

The council discussed and decided to hold a special planning and zoning meeting at 6 p.m. followed by a special council meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

If planning and zoning approves the plans for the project, then the council will discuss signing a resolution in support of the project. This will not make it a final decision, as a public hearing will have to be held to hear support or opposition from the community on the project before it’s finalized.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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