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Proposed Southland apartments wait for funding

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on February 13, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

A South Toledo apartment project that drew scrutiny last year from neighbors and prompted public debate over the definition of affordable housing is still moving forward, officials behind the proposal said Monday.

Developers are working to secure funding for the proposed 50-unit multifamily complex in the parking lot of Southland shopping center at Glendale Avenue and Byrne Road. The $14 million complex is geared toward workers earning between $15 and $25 an hour.

Pete Schwiegeraht, senior vice president of development for Pivotal, previously known as MVAH Partners, the Cincinnati-based firm behind the project, said that construction costs and inflation have slowed the project.

“Interest rates are worse and construction costs are higher and most of those things work against feasibility types of development,” Mr. Schwiegeraht said. “So [we have to] roll up our sleeves and work harder to find ways to make projects work.”

When first proposed last February, neighbors organized a rally against the proposal arguing it might hurt existing and future businesses in the area, and that placing family housing in a sprawling strip mall parking lot made no sense.

In spite of that opposition, Toledo City Council voted 8-4 on March 15 in favor of allowing a zone change for that property from regional commercial to residential multifamily, making way for the project. Council members who voted for it were Sam Melden, Vanice Williams, Theresa Morris, John Hobbs, Tiffany Preston Whitman, Cerssandra McPherson, Nick Komives and then-councilman Michele Grim, who is now in the Ohio House of Representatives. Those voting against it were Theresa Gadus, Matt Cherry, Katie Moline, and George Sarantou.

Mr. Schwiegeraht said that issues raised by members of the surrounding community during those meetings did not fall on deaf ears as proposed plans shifted from two and three-bedroom units to one and two-bedroom units after those discussions. The proposal should appeal to more young professionals and college students, he said.

“We’ve even shaped the development based on their input,” he said. “It was good to be part of the process. You listen to what they want and do what you can to make the best of the development and meet their needs where you can.”

Jennifer Dunsmore, an agent with Prime Retail Advisors, the leasing agent for the Southland Shopping Center property supports the proposal, which she says will be an important asset for that area of Toledo.

“We believe that housing will bring more business for our tenants,” she said. “Two other potential developments are happening at that shopping center, and we are very focused on making sure it is a success.”

A sister project to the Southland complex is also planned in central Toledo, at Detroit and Grand avenues. That 40-unit complex will focus on two and three-bedroom units in a neighborhood-based area.

Both projects are linked through financing and once funding is approved a public meeting will take place to discuss the design plans, Mr. Schwiegeraht said.

In addition to those projects, Pivotal is also behind other affordable housing projects in the area including Secor Senior Lofts, an affordable senior housing complex at 3829 Secor Road near Monroe Street. Phase one of that plan, which called for 58-units of one and two-bedroom apartments, was completed last year and is fully occupied.

“It leased up like lightning,” Mr. Schwiegeraht said. “Secor was a great development. I love to bring some new housing options to the city of Toledo, especially to seniors who are in need and want to age in place.”

The firm is seeking additional state funding to complete phase two of the project, which would add 50 more senior housing units to that site. The $14 million project could be available to renters next spring, Mr. Schwiegeraht said.

Trail Side Lofts in Maumee also is under way and should be completed this summer. The project includes a 50-unit multifamily complex and the firm recently applied for additional state funding to build additional housing for seniors at that site.

“Our plan was to do a multigenerational campus where we had senior housing and work force on one campus,” he said.

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