HomeCincinnati NewsCincinnati's downtown gets affordable senior housing boost

Cincinnati’s downtown gets affordable senior housing boost

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Cincinnati, Ohio – Model Group is set to transform a downtown self-storage building and another empty building into a $26.5 million housing project for seniors. The Oskamp Flats project will create 70 affordable apartments at 26 W. Seventh St. and 223 W. Fourth St. This month, the developer secured the necessary low-income housing tax credits to move forward with the plan.

“It gives it a high degree of likelihood we can get there,” Model Group CEO Bobby Maly said. “We’ve got some work to do, but that gives us basically the lion’s share of the funding to give it a real path to get started by early 2025.”

In addition to the low-income credits, the project is eligible for federal historic tax credits. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which enhances their chances of receiving these credits. The funding mix will also include private investments and loans, along with a possible portion of federal funds allocated to the city for housing projects, Maly explained.

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The federal low-income housing tax credits alone will contribute approximately $15.4 million to the project’s budget, with another $3.6 million expected from federal historic tax credits. A summary from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency details these figures. National Church Residences will oversee the management of the apartments once completed. This marks the second senior-focused project in the city center by Model Group, following their renovation of the YMCA building on Central Parkway, which now includes senior apartments on its upper floors.

“We’re always trying to look at the neighborhoods we’re in as an ecosystem,” Maly said. “We think it’s important to have a balance of all different kinds of housing options for people. It’s important to find buildings of a certain size to make that work. We’re doing it in two buildings, so we can have some space.”

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The Seventh Street building currently is used for storage, which is not considered the highest and best use for structures in an urban core.

“We’re excited to bring that back to residential. Storage in that beautiful building should not be allowed,” Maly said.

The Oskamp Flats project will include 34 studio apartments and 36 one-bedroom units, all designated for seniors. These units will be available to seniors earning between 60% and 80% of the area’s median income, with a special allocation of 10% of the units for those earning less than 30% of the median income. For context, a single person earning 80% of the median income would have an income of $56,650, while someone earning 60% would make approximately $42,488.

Each apartment will be equipped with modern amenities including a dishwasher and an in-unit washer and dryer. Additionally, National Church Residences will provide supportive services to the residents. This development is notable as downtown has seen few income-restricted housing projects recently. The last such project before this was the Barrister, launched by Urban Sites and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing in March, marking the first in two decades. The property at 26 W. Seventh St. was purchased by a Model Group-related entity in 2022 for $2.7 million.

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“I think the reason you haven’t seen it is because the acquisition costs are higher,” Maly said. “You have the same challenges as you have with any other conversion. I think you’ll see a little more, but I don’t think you’ll see a lot more.”

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