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Funding 'hiccup' slows Cornelius Place project

Luke-Dorf housing project also excluded from state tax credit program


COURTESY PHOTO - The proposed Cornelius Place project will feature a library and community room on the first floor while the second and third floors will offer housing for low-income seniors. Bienestar, which is managing the housing part of the project, will look elsewhere for funding after the state denied its bid for low-income housing tax credits.Cornelius city officials learned last week that federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding for the senior housing portion of the proposed three-story Cornelius Place project has been denied for 2015.

Cornelius Place is the joint project of the city and Bienestar, a Hillsboro-based nonprofit housing developer. Approved by the city council in February, the $12.8 million, 18,500-square-foot project includes a library and community room on the first floor, as well as apartments for low-income seniors on the top two floors. The city’s portion of the cost would be approximately $4.8 million, of which state lottery bonds have funded $2.4 million.

“We were disappointed to learn that Bienestar had not been awarded the LIHTC funds,” said Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake. “But this is just a hiccup in the process. There are other funding possibilities for them. We’ve already met with State Rep. Susan McLain and [the] state housing [department] to see what the alternatives might be.”

Bienestar Executive Director Ann Blaker said she’s not sure why the $8 million request wasn’t granted. “We should know that when we’re debriefed,” she said. “Because of the value of this project, we intend to follow up and will be talking to the state next week to see what viable gap-funding options are. We’re not going to give up easily. “

Drake said that other than extending the timeline for the project by six to nine months, nothing changes.

“We have friends in the Legislature who are on our side,” he said. “We’re confident we can work with Bienestar to find other sources of funding. We’re in no danger of losing the lottery funds that are already in the city’s bank account. Worst case would be moving the project into 2016.”

Cornelius Library Director Karen Hill also said she thinks the funding problem can be resolved. “We’re going to keep moving ahead. We already have a $260,000 Community Development Block grant, and more than $50,000 from individual donors. We should have a better idea of where we’re going in a couple of weeks.” COURTESY PHOTO - The proposed Cornelius Place project will feature a library and community room on the first floor while the second and third floors will offer housing for low-income seniors. Bienestar, which is managing the housing part of the project, will look elsewhere for funding after the state denied its bid for low-income housing tax credits.

Hill added that several years ago the city council had approved plans for a one-story building for the new library. “I’m hoping this project can be more than the library. There is a real need for senior housing in Cornelius, and this would be a great way to get them involved in our community.”

Also excluded as one of the 13 projects funded by state LIHTC this year was the proposed Corinth Gardens, a low-income housing apartment building that would have been located near Real Life Christian Church on 10th Avenue in Cornelius.

The project is a partnership between Cascade Housing Group, an affordable housing developer, and Luke-Dorf Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides counseling and case management for individuals in need of assistance due to mental health issues or risk of homelessness.

Earlier this year Phil Hedrick, a representative of Cascade Housing, said that if the project didn’t win funding in 2015, his group would put it in mothballs and start planning for next year.

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