COLUMBIA — Although a plan to build affordable townhouses on the Deluxe Inn property on Business Loop 70 East has fallen through, New Horizons Community Support Services was continuing to negotiate with other property owners Friday to secure land for a similar project. This organization is partnering with the Columbia Housing Authority to develop new affordable housing to include community support services for persons with disabilities.
The authority's board of commissioners met in closed session on Tuesday to review several parcels of land that might be candidates for additional affordable housing, authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said. The agency had hoped to create a partnership with New Horizons Community Support Services to develop 52 townhouses on the Business Loop land, but that deal did not come to fruition.
New Horizons and the housing authority plan to tap low-income housing tax credits to help finance this new project, but they can't actually buy land targeted for the construction until the Missouri Housing Development Commission approves their applications for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. The partners, however, do have to gain control of the sites. They were unable to secure a deal to gain control of the Deluxe Inn land, at 2112 Business Loop 70 E.
"Because it was talked about publicly, the owners of the inn property decided they weren't agreeable to terms that would have allowed us to get site control," Steinhaus said. "The issue was they wanted us to pay them $30,000, and they wanted us to close (the deal) in 90 days."
The property is owned by Poonam, Inc., according to the Boone County assessor's website. Steinhaus said the $30,000 figure would not have applied to the purchase price. He likened the proposed deal to paying $10,000 a month in rent.
Meanwhile, New Horizons Community Support Services, Inc., which is working with the authority on its affordable housing initiative, was negotiating for a different property on Friday that could potentially accommodate 40 affordable housing units. The proposed project would include 20 homes dubbed "workplace housing" for families or people whose incomes are from 30 percent to 60 percent of the median family income level in Boone County. The other 20 homes would offer support services for families that are below 30 percent of the median family income and include members with mental illnesses or other difficulties that prevent them from living independently.
Steinhaus said Friday marked the deadline for reaching an agreement on the alternative property. Andrea Cheung, director of Development and Project Management for New Horizons Community Support Services, Inc., and Michele Duffe, a principal with ND Consulting Group, could not be reached for comment about whether the negotiations succeeded. Steinhaus said late Friday afternoon that he didn't know whether a deal had been reached.
A key component of the site control process is a payment dubbed "earnest money," Steinhaus said.
"The earnest money is basically a payment to the property owner to 'sit on' (the land) for the next three months and not take any other offers," Steinhaus said. If the purchase does not proceed, the owner keeps the earnest money, and the deal is void. That arrangement protects the landowner.
The housing authority has said it is interested in acquiring several abandoned or vacant properties in the central city to develop affordable housing. It also hopes to use the state tax-credit program to help finance the renovation of public housing apartments on Lincoln and Unity drives.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.