The city’s Redevelopment Commission on Thursday hit the ground running in its latest effort to spur growth in the city’s housing market, agreeing to help Sure Clean Inc. in a near $2.5 million endeavor to build 13 homes in an area just off Hart Street.
Sure Clean, a local disaster restoration company-turned-home builder, submitted the only application as part of the RDC’s Request for Proposals, an attempt to hear from developers who want to build homes within the city’s Tax Increment Finance Zone — which includes the Hart and Sixth street corridors as well as much of downtown — but need a little financial nudge to do so.
Sure Clean has acquired some ground located just behind Ducky’s Express Car Wash on Hart Street, a green space bordered by Hart Street, Broadway Street and 17th Street.
Sure Clean’s plan is to build as many as 13 homes in that space, and per the RDC’s request, each will be different and with their own unique qualities.
In the RDC’s request to hear from developers, they discouraged any kind of “cookie cutter approach,” as was reiterated by RDC member Bob Slayton during their regular meeting Thursday.
What the RDC doesn’t want is a “housing project” look. Each home, they hope, will have its own “character,” Slayton said.
“We just want to make sure every home doesn’t look exactly alike,” Slayton said.
The RDC was a partner in a development team led by local architect Andy Myszak in the construction of 22 single-family homes throughout town. That project was largely funded through federal tax dollars and so rent is income based.
Sure Clean was the contractor selected to build those homes, and while the RDC is appreciative of them, members have said their very similar, uniform appearance isn’t what they’re after moving forward.
And Mark Gerkin, a co-owner of Sure Clean, said they very much understand.
The plan, he said, is to build one home as a kind of “spec” home. Buyers would then be able to tour that home and modify it based on their own preferences, a housing approach quite common in suburban areas.
There will be four basic interior designs, Gerkin explained to the RDC, but externally, there will be many options. Garages can be positioned on various sides of the homes, and roof lines can vary as well.
These 13 homes also won’t be built at one time and then sold later, Gerkin said. They will, instead, be built as buyers come forward so they can be completely customized.
They do, however, hope to be completely done with the housing project — meaning the lots are all sold and the homes built — by the summer of 2022.
The houses will be priced between $150,000 and $210,000.
Sure Clean asked the RDC specifically for help with infrastructure costs, things like the construction of roads within the housing development as well as connection to existing utilities.
The RDC unanimously approved up to $218,000 in reimbursable funds.
And Gerkin said any money contributed by the RDC would directly benefit home buyers.
“We are 100% committed to this project,” Gerkin told the commission. “The money you contribute will go straight to the cost reduction of the homes when they are sold.”
Gerkin, too, said these homes will be sold at market rate and include no government subsidies, therefore will not be income based.
“They can be sold to anybody,” he said.
RDC members were thrilled at Sure Clean’s request and were eager to get on board.
“I appreciate the proposal very much,” said RDC member Greg Parsley, also superintendent of the Vincennes Community School Corp. “This is exactly what we’ve been looking for for quite some time.”
“I’m enthusiastic about it,” chimed in Slayton. “It’s touched all the bases and addressed many of the general concerns we’ve had in the past, so I think it’s a great proposal.”
RDC member Marc McNeece, also an at-large city councilman, called it “exactly what we want.”
“And it’s exactly what the community needs,” he said.
The RDC last month agreed to move forward with a multi-phase approach to (hopefully) spur growth in the local housing market. Local officials have for years been concerned about the lack of available mid-range housing, and entities like Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes University and the Vincennes Community School Corp., among others, have said families often look outside Knox County for what they need.
Phase I, just as with Sure Clean’s application, was meant to focus on the development of a “subdivision” or small complex of homes.
A rubric offered a point-based scoring system, one favoring developers with a knowledge of the property they’re taking on, their experience in the field, the location chosen and ones willing to build larger, 2,000-square-foot homes, among other criteria.
But during this first round, the RDC received only the single application from Sure Clean.
Other rounds are possible
Phase II, which is also in the works, would look to seek out developers who would be interested in building homes on empty lots around town; the RDC owns several, lots that have been passed into their hands following the city’s state-funded effort to eliminate blight.
Phase III would then likely be looking at developers interested in taking on existing properties, say ones within the city’s Historic District, and renovating or restoring them.
For more information, contact City Hall at 812-882-7285.