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Council approves resolution of support

The Bonne Terre City Council held a special session Feb. 15 following an apartment proposal presentation by Gardner Capitol on Feb. 12 requesting a resolution of support. Prior to the Feb. 15 council meeting, a planning and zoning meeting was held to hear the same presentation.

Mayor Brandon Hubbard was not in attendance, so Alderwoman Andrea Richardson stepped in as mayor pro-tem.

City Attorney Seth Pegram announced for the record that planning and zoning met right before the meeting and it was his understanding that they passed a motion to recommend their support to the council to execute a resolution to support the project of Gardner Capitol.

Gardner Capitol Senior Vice President of Development Mike Williams said this is an incredibly competitive process across the state of Missouri. He explained that last year there were approximately 120 applications and only 29 of them were funded.

“That includes Kansas City and St. Louis probably gobbling up half of that 29,” Williams said. “I’m interested in support on any level, but I think the letter of intent to support would be recognized as a lesser form of support and give (Missouri Housing Development Commission) MHDC a reason to put you in a non-funded pile, as opposed to a resolution.”

Williams said they almost have to develop an “us against them mentality” for the state dollars for this program. He said Bonne Terre is competing against the Mount Vernons of the world and the Cape Girardeaus.

“I think if you want to support it, you probably don’t want to do anything to lessen our chances of getting funded,” said Williams. “But that is just Mike Williams from Gardner Capitol throwing out an opinion.”

Alderman Bruce Pratte was not in attendance for the Feb. 12 meeting to hear the initial presentation, so he had a couple questions for Williams. He asked if these were going to be HUD apartments.

Alderwoman Julie Hahn and Alderman Bruce Pratte listen to final discussions on the Old Orchard apartment proposal.

Alderwoman Julie Hahn and Alderman Bruce Pratte listen to final discussions on the Old Orchard apartment proposal.

Williams stressed there is nothing to do with HUD in these projects. The number of people per unit or occupancy is based on a HUD standard. If they are developing in an area and there is no local code, they are required to use the HUD standard.

“The branch of the federal government that oversees this project is the Internal Revenue Service,with a tax credit,” said Williams.

Pratte asked why they thought Bonne Terre needed more apartments because there are apartments everywhere.

“Our market study analyst, a third-party, hired person, who helps my owner decide to put me here to talk to you and/or recommend a group of investors to invest millions of dollars in these professionals’ ability,” Williams said. “These third-party market analysts determine how much need is in this community in the primary market area, which expands approximately 10-mile area around Bonne Terre for example.”

Pratte said he would much rather see a large retail store being put in out there, rather than apartments. He said it seems to him that all Bonne Terre is made up of is rental property.

“I have had three phone calls and two people come to my work today just to tell me they didn’t want low-income in Bonne Terre. We have enough,” Pratte said. “So that is the reason I am asking.”

Bonne Terre City Administrator Jim Eaton said the apartments are not low-income.

Williams said it is funded with a tax credit that is actually called the low-income housing tax credit and when most people think low-income, they think public housing authority.

“Our apartments are based off mom and dad combined making $22 an hour, for example, and that is a pretty hard-working family,” Williams explained. “You aren’t sitting at home collecting a welfare check and making the rent at our place. It has nothing to with HUD, it’s not public housing, and it’s not Section 8. It is definitely low to moderate housing, with a heavy emphasis on moderate.”

The apartments proposed for the Old Orchard area will span over a five-acre lot.

The apartments proposed for the Old Orchard area will span over a five-acre lot.

He said this complex is really going to be the primary place to live in that income bracket. Williams added they will lease all of them out in two months and will have a waiting list in no time.

Pegram stepped in and explained what Williams was trying to say is that in the application process, the tenants they rent to have an income maximum and an income minimum based on how much they earning per household, but they are not receiving any federal subsidies for their rent.

“So they are households that are earning themselves, but these apartments, because of the tax credit you get, are offered to a certain income level to make sure working people in the community can have affordable and decent housing,” Pegram said.

Alderwoman Julie Hahn made a motion for a resolution of support and Alderman Erik Schonhardt seconded the motion. They both voted in favor and Pratte opposed. The motion passed in favor of the resolution of support for the apartments.

Gardner Capitol Senior Vice President of Development Mike Williams answers final questions about the apartment proposal in an attempt to get a resolution of support from the council.

Gardner Capitol Senior Vice President of Development Mike Williams answers final questions about the apartment proposal in an attempt to get a resolution of support from the council.

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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