Tax credits set for Carr, apartments on Blossom

Published 11:19 am Friday, October 12, 2012

The vacant Carr Central building could be remodeled into apartments for low- and moderate-income renters by late 2013 or early 2014, its redeveloper predicts after nearly $1.5 million in housing tax credits were awarded to the effort.

Credits secured by Houston-based Brownstone are part of more than $6.6 million awarded Wednesday by the Mississippi Home Corporation to 17 developments statewide, including the Carr site and the dilapidated former Timber Creek apartments on Blossom Lane in Warren County. Brownstone’s application scored highest among the developments reviewed by MHC, a self-supporting entity that oversees federal housing grants in Mississippi.

Jeremy Mears, the firm’s lead developer in converting the former school to a 72-unit complex and for renovations started in September to turn the former Aeolian apartments into rentals for seniors, said the property should be purchased and a reconstruction begun by year’s end.

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“That’s what we’re shooting for,” Mears said. “Then, it’s a one-year time frame on the construction.”

The old school and surrounding property are owned by the estate of Webber Brewer, who died in 2010. Brownstone’s application was the fourth effort since 1999 to redevelop the property, vacant since 1979. Carr closed that year after it functioned as a junior high for 21 years. It had served as Carr Central High School from 1932 to 1958, when H.V. Cooper High School opened.

Rent for all complexes financed by housing tax credits is based on a sliding scale based on income. Tenants must earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, which, in Warren County, is about $30,855 for families and about $20,000 for individuals, using the most recent income-related census data.

A 72-unit complex is to be built in two phases over the existing building and feature at least two new structures. The units would be 700 to 1,300 square feet and feature energy-efficient utilities, a business center, a playground and 152 parking spaces.

On project documents and on MHC’s award list, the new complex is called Village Oaks, but Mears reiterated his openness to keeping Carr in the title once it’s built.

“It’ll have something to do with Carr,” Mears said of the eventual name.

Funding sources for the credits typically include those specifically for historic properties and housing-related lines of money from the state’s congressional districts.

Credits provide reductions in tax liability for 10 years for owners and investors in affordable-income rental housing, based on development costs and the number of units.

Pearl-based New Horizons Group plans to shop those credits for about three months before starting on the former Timber Creek in early spring, said David L. Strange, a developer with the effort.

“It’s a nine-month construction, typically,” Strange said.

Built in 1974, the blighted former Timber Creek units have sat unoccupied for 15 years beside Apple Orchard apartments, near Oak Park subdivision, as the buildings have rotted. The new complex would be named the Oak Ridge Apartments, according to the award list.

In general, applications are scored on a 120-point scale based on whether developers file timely paperwork and hold public hearings. Credit is also given for developing historic properties, senior-oriented facilities or committing to energy-efficient appliances. Plans for Carr included the historic and green energy aspects, and scored a 135. The proposal for the new Oak Ridge units scored a 125.

A third proposal for Vicksburg, planned off U.S. 80 by Arkansas-based Rich Smith Development LLC, was rejected. On its recipient list, MHC listed the development and 34 others with the comment “not enough credits to fund.”