BY MIKE McCARTHY | MIRROR EDITOR — A new $15 million affordable housing complex is scheduled to break ground in Maumee next week. Once constructed, the 50-unit Trailside Lofts will provide families with low to moderate incomes an opportunity to live and work in Maumee.
The complex, to be built by MVAH Partners of West Chester Township, Ohio, will be located in the new Side Cut Crossings development near the intersection of Ford Street and the Anthony Wayne Trail in Maumee. The complex will be constructed on a parcel of land adjacent to the newly opened Maumee Pointe Assisted Living & Memory Care facility and just a few hundred yards from the Karmanos Cancer Institute at The Toledo Clinic Cancer Center, which opened just last month.
The new four-story structure will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom units. A mix of seniors, individuals, small families and larger families are expected to fill the facility.
“These units are next to none as far as quality and design,” said Pete Schwiegeraht, senior vice president of development for MVAH Partners. “They are 100-percent accessible, visitable units. They’re green in design. They are going to meet the national green building standards and will be super-high-efficiency buildings.
“Anything and everything you would expect in your home, you will find in these units, such as walk-in closets, a large open floor plan, a breakfast island, solid surface flooring and in-unit laundry rooms and facilities,” Schwiegeraht added.
“In addition to that, we have a lot of internal amenities,” Schwiegeraht commented. “We have a fitness center accessible to residents 24/7 inside the building. We have a business center where residents can hold private meetings. We have a community room where they can host parties and other social events. We have a playground area with a picnic shelter inside. There is also an elevator in the building. There will also be an on-site manager and maintenance persons.”
Schwiegeraht emphasized that the city of Maumee held MVAH Partners to high standards before granting approval for construction. “When I say the city held us to high standards, I mean these were higher standards than we have ever been held to before,” Schwiegeraht said.
“We had to install almost double the windows that we would normally do in a building,” he continued. “Instead of 8-foot floor heights, we were required to do 9-foot floor heights. There is no vinyl on the building, whatsoever. It’s all brick and cement board on the exterior.
“The city was very sensitive in looking out for the area to make sure this was being built to the highest quality standards possible,” noted Schwiegeraht.
As an affordable housing facility, rents at Trailside Lofts will be below market value for similar accommodations in the area. Potential tenants will also have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for residency.
First, residents will only be eligible if they make up to 80-percent AMI (area median income). AMI is the midpoint of a region’s income distribution. Half of families in a region earn more that the median income and half earn less than the median. The current AMI in the Lucas County area is approximately $65,000. This equates to between $15.00 and $27.00 per hour based upon the 80-percent income limit and family size.
Second, all tenants must meet credit score criteria verifying that they will be able to make timely monthly rent payments.
Third, all tenant candidates will undergo a criminal background check.
How does an affordable housing complex make money if the rents are discounted?
“Because we use federal tax credits, the tax credits act as equity,” Schwiegeraht explained. “If you think about your conventional market rate development, it’s going to be financed with 20 percent equity and 80 percent debt, much like the typical mortgage on a home.
“Because of these tax credits, we are able to structure the project as to where it is 80 percent equity and 20 percent debt. As a result, we can charge the lower rents because we have much smaller debt on the property because of the use of the tax credits.
“The same IRS code that offers child tax credits provides these housing tax credits,” Schwiegeraht explained.
MVAH Partners applied for the federal tax credits through the state of Ohio via the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA). The firm filed a competitive bid for funding in February 2021 and received a $10 million award in funding in May 2021.
The firm was hoping to begin construction last fall, but as construction costs continued to skyrocket, MVAH Partners realized it needed more funding to meet the project’s escalating construction costs.
At its meeting two weeks ago, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners awarded MVAH Partners a $1.5 million grant from its allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding that was part of the federal government’s post-COVID stimulus response.
The $1.5 million funding from the county served as gap funding for the $15 million project and helped make the project a reality. With $11.5 million in hand, MVAH Partners financed the balance of the $3.5 million in construction costs with additional tax credits from the state and traditional financing methods.
“I can’t thank the county enough, because without these funds to fill the financial gap, we wouldn’t have been able to do the project,” said Schwiegeraht.
Since the bulk of this project is financed by tax credits, MVAH is obligated to charge the reduced rents to assist the type of working-class tenants it has been designed to attract.
How did this project end up in Maumee?
MVAH Partners purchased the property from Joe Swolsky, the same Maumee developer who sold property to the other entities at Side Cut Crossings. Swolsky had earlier purchased the property in a major land deal with the railroad.
The city of Maumee did not play a role in the sale of the property and no tax breaks were provided; however, the city stands to benefit from the added income tax from the tenants and the site managers who work within city limits. Maumee City Schools will also enjoy added revenue from property taxes on the complex and may also benefit from increased student enrollment from some of the families that move into the facility.
“When you divide the cost of the project by 50 units, you will see that these units are averaging $300,000 apiece,” noted Schwiegeraht.
Mayor Richard Carr stated that this has the same local tax impact as 75 houses valued at $200,000 each. He also noted that Maumee seniors who decide to sell their homes and move into the complex may end up selling their homes to younger families, and that could also help Maumee’s school enrollment.
“We will be joining the Maumee Chamber of Commerce and we will work with the chamber to identify the employers in Maumee that have employees within these bandwidths,” Schwiegeraht remarked.
“There are thousands of jobs within a mile of this site for people making between $15.00 and $27.00 per hour. We will be working with these companies to make sure they are aware that the units are available to serve their employees.”
“Maumee is a great community,” said Schwiegeraht. “It’s full of great amenities and services, and right now this type of housing product is not available at all in Maumee. It will be the first of its kind – the first tax credit development within the city limits of Maumee.”
Schwiegeraht pointed out that a large portion of the households in Maumee meet the eligibility requirements to live in Trailside Lofts, “so it’s not like we are bringing down incomes in Maumee,” he noted. “We’re matching the incomes that are already prevalent in Maumee.”
“The more important feature to point out is that this gives folks an opportunity to live and work in the same community. Why work in Maumee and then have to commute from some other place because you can’t find housing in your community?” said Schwiegeraht.
MVAH Partners has other successful developments within the communities of Whitehouse, Sylvania, Perrysburg and Toledo. Their other comparable affordable housing facilities are 100-percent occupied with waiting lists of up to one year, claimed Schwiegeraht.
MVAH Partners has also applied for funding for a second phase of the project. The company is hoping to obtain state-administered federal funds to construct a 45-unit senior independent living facility next to Trailside Lofts.
The complex would be age-restricted for the 55-plus age group and would offer the same 80-percent AMI criteria. The proposal is under review by the state, and Schwiegeraht said that MVAH may find out this month if it has been awarded the funding for the project.
If approved, this would create another $15 million project right next door to Trailside Lofts.
“The whole goal here is to create this multi-generational housing campus where we can serve families of all sizes and seniors of all ages,” Schwiegeraht stated.