Council gives first approval for senior housing project

Seymour City Council hopes the third time is a charm for the proposed Crossroads Village senior housing development.

The board unanimously approved a request Monday to rezone 2.2 acres of vacant property at 500 S. Poplar St. just south of Schneck Medical Center from R-1 (single family residential) to R-2 (multifamily residential) for the project.

It was the first reading of the ordinance, and it will be up for a final vote May 13.

The city plan commission forwarded the rezone to the council with a favorable recommendation in a 9-0 vote April 11. Two members were absent from that meeting.

Kevin Johnson with Thrive Alliance in Columbus said the project is contingent on whether it receives state housing tax credits. That application is due in July, and the grants will be awarded in November.

“We’ll need to get the grant to be able to move forward with this,” he said.

The rezone is a requirement for the grant application.

The four-story building, if constructed, will have 64 one- and two-bedroom apartments for people 55 or older, and rent will be income-based.

The company has brought the project to the council twice before, first in 2017 and then in 2018, but it failed to get city approval due to concerns the property was contaminated from its former uses as the Seymour Woolen Mill and later Seymour Electronics.

The property is owned by FarBur Investments. It has undergone environmental cleanup for more than a decade.

“I think it sounds like it might be a go this time if everything gets done on time,” said Councilman John Reinhart, who also is a member of the plan commission.

He suggested a time frame of 15 months for the project to be completed. If the project falls through, the zoning will revert back to R-1.

“This project has fell through twice,” Reinhart said. “I don’t want us to pass an ordinance that rezones that to R-2, this project falls through and then any kind of apartments can go in there.

“I think to protect the city’s interests and the neighborhood’s interest, we need to have some idea of what the project would be,” he added. “I want to see this project happen, but I want it to be this project.”

Johnson and Councilman Lloyd Hudson said they didn’t feel like that was enough time for a project of this scope.

“That’s not truly a realistic goal,” Johnson said. “We could agree to a time stipulation, but we would need to know the start time to have everything in line first.”

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he didn’t expect the project to even get underway until 2020.

Councilman Dave Earley said he supports the project and wants to see it happen.

“I think we all liked this project even two years ago when we first saw it, and then again last year, but time just ran out,” he said. “I think we’re on the same page here now.”