Charleston City Council approves housing project loan
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Council members awarded a $240,000 loan to the developer of the Glenwood School housing project on the city's West Side during Monday's meeting.
The loan will come out of federal Housing and Urban Development funds allocated to the city during fiscal year 2011-2012, said Brian King, director of the Mayor's Office for Economic and Community Development.
The Mayor's Office for Economic and Community Development administers federal funds for these kinds of projects.
The money will come from the city's Home Project funds, which received about $1.7 million in fiscal year 2011-2012. That federal funding was cut by 46 percent during the current fiscal year.
The $240,000 is one of the largest allocations dedicated to a single project, King said.
King said he was not concerned about providing a loan taken from federal funding. He said the developer would make money from rent payments.
"I think this is a really good project," King said. "It's all about housing for seniors."
King also pointed out that the project comes down to about $7,800 per apartment.
Local real estate developer Chris Sadd plans to turn the old school on the West Side hill into 31, single-bedroom apartments, said Zora Rogers, Home Program supervisor.
Most of the seniors are living on fixed incomes of about $15,000 to $19,000 a year, she said.
"Housing for seniors is a huge need in the city," she said.
Mayor Danny Jones supported granting the loan. He said the project was worthwhile and would help seniors.
"And if that building hadn't been taken over, it would have become an eyesore," Jones said.
Republican Councilman Tom Lane agreed.
"I think we're lucky to find someone to put this property to good use," the at-large councilman said.
Sadd purchased the Grant Street building for $50,000 in July 2011.
The school closed earlier that year and the student body was merged with Chandler Elementary to form the new Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary.
The loan is zero percent interest, Rogers said. It will be paid back in 20 to 30 years, she said.
Rogers will meet with Sadd today to discuss the length of the loan.
If Sadd opts to sell the building, he must pay back the loan immediately.
Sadd plans to spend $5.2 million to renovate the school and turn it into apartments, Rogers said.
King pointed out that this is the only apartment complex dedicated exclusively to seniors. The next closest senior housing complex is in South Charleston, he said.
The motion to grant the loan passed unanimously.
Council members also introduced a bill authorizing the city to take over eight acres of land near Danner Meadow Park in Fort Hill.
The property would be deeded to the city as a gift by the estate of Lawson Hamilton. It would be used as a nature conservatory and to expand the walking trail at the park, Councilwoman Susie Salisbury said.
Salisbury is a Republican representing Fort Hill and one of the bill's sponsors.
"This is really exciting," she said.
The bill was referred to the Finance Committee. Salisbury hopes to have the land in city hands by the end of the year and the trail expansion completed in six months.
The trailhead will remain at Danner Meadow Park, she said.
"This will be a great boon for the neighborhood and the city," Salisbury said.