Indiana Daily Student

Construction for affordable housing development by Switchyard Park to start in June

A rendering of The Retreat, a new affordable housing addition next to Switchyard Park, appears. Construction on The Retreat will begin in June.
A rendering of The Retreat, a new affordable housing addition next to Switchyard Park, appears. Construction on The Retreat will begin in June.

RealAmerica, a company that specializes in building affordable housing, will start to transform a 1.5 acre of land from the former location of the Night Moves strip club into a development with 48 affordable housing units this June.

The development’s construction, near Switchyard Park’s eastern entrance on Walnut Street, is expected to take one and a half years and will cost about $17.5 million, Jeff Ryan, vice president of development for RealAmerica, said. RealAmerica is the developer for the project and will manage the complex after it is built.

The City of Bloomington bought the land in 2017 with the intention of building affordable housing units on it, Yaël Ksander, communications director for the Office of the Mayor, said.

“The city has been super intentional about wanting to make sure that the land around Switchyard Park is being taken advantage of in a way that really allows people to have access to that park,” Ksander said.

Related: [New homeless shelter opens by Switchyard Park, has already accommodated dozens]

The area, called Retreat @ the Switchyard, will have 3,000 square feet of commercial space and parking on the ground floor, Ryan said. The other four floors will have 64 housing units total, with a community room with a kitchen, offices, computer room, conference room, fitness center and Zoom room, a space where people can conduct video calls.

Of the 64 units, 48 will be reserved for Bloomington residents within 30% to 80% of Bloomington’s area median income, Ksander said. The average median income for Bloomington families is $76,300, according to HUD.gov. The 48 units will be reserved for family units making as little as $16,050 a year for one person households or as much as $80,600 for eight person households.

Brent Pierce, assistant director for the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, said providing this affordable housing is important in Bloomington because of the high market rate of houses and apartments. He said to provide affordable housing, the local government needs to use public subsidies so companies, such as RealAmerica, can build and provide better, cheaper housing units in nice areas, such as Switchyard Park.

Pierce said one of the goals of this project and others such as Switchyard Apartments is to bring more people who previously were not able to afford Bloomington’s housing prices into city limits, allowing for easier access to jobs or work in Bloomington.

“As the market has played out with minimal public investment or direction it is pushing folks out who likely work in Bloomington, want to live in Bloomington but just can’t,” he said.

To further increase access to these units, the Bloomington Housing Authority will provide project-based vouchers, or public funds, to people in the affordable care units at Retreat @ the Switchyard, Ksander said.

Ten of the 48 units will be reserved for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Ksander said. Local nonprofit Stone Belt, which provides resources and support to individuals with disabilities, will have an office in the development dedicated to support staff for the individuals in those 10 housing units, Ryan said.

Related: [IU students, unhoused people pitch tents to protest city’s treatment of unhoused community]

Ryan said it is important to set aside these units for people with disabilities because they are disproportionately affected by high housing prices.

“That’s a population that needs housing and there just are very few choices for it,” he said.

The city, which can impose certain specifications because it owns the land for the development, is requiring the 48 units stay at affordable housing rates for 99 years, Ryan said. This does not mean they will always be reserved for people in the 30% to 80% range of the average median income.

RealAmerica will start pre-leasing the apartments about 4 months before the building opens, but people can call the company now to get on a call-back list and be notified when that process begins, Ryan said.

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