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Seniors operating on limited incomes in the near future will have some quality living options available at their fingertips.

The Columbus City Council while convened as a Community Development Agency this week approved the use of tax-increment financing (TIF) that will enable low-income senior housing to take shape on the two floors of space above the existing Columbus Family Resource Center.

The project, which information provided by City Staff says is expected to be completed on or before Dec. 31, 2020, calls for 34 senior-only units to be housed in the refurbished second- and third-floor of space which previously were used when the building served as the old Columbus Community Hospital prior to its early-2000s relocation to the north edge of town.

The project is slated to cost about $5,224,844 and is eligible for $232,067 in TIF dollars, provided information shows. Those dollars are being used largely for demolition reimbursement, said Cliff Mesner of Central City-based Mesner Development Company, which is spearheading the effort.

“We ended up a couple hundred thousand dollars short on the hospital – rehabs are very expensive projects,” Mesner said. “One of the things we ended up having to do was (we will) tear down the oldest part of the building which was built in roughly 1920, and that’s actually what we are asking for the TIF for – that about $220,000 in demo costs.”

The project calls for 24 units that will house seniors who are at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income, and the remaining 10 units will cater toward patrons who are at or below 50 percent of the area’s median income. The average rent and utility monthly total for both projects will be about $750 and $400, respectively, Mesner said.

Mesner’s team is currently working on another low-income housing tax credit apartment project just east of Third Avenue and about two blocks north of U.S. Highway 30, he said, adding that other area projects are happening in Schuyler, Norfolk, Wayne and Fremont.

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The majority of the builds his company takes on, he said, are low-income tax credit projects and additional workforce housing for communities.

The management of the units will be divided between Mesner Development Company and the Family Resource Center, which will continue operating business as usual on the facility’s ground floor.

“We have had to run through some hoops to make that work, but we got all that done from the very beginning …,” Mesner said. "That was part of the magic of this project, that we have seniors that are on the top floor and the city’s community (center) is on the ground floor – that’s just perfect.”

Mayor Jim Bulkley added that from the city’s perspective it also makes a whole lot of sense.

“I think it’s just a wonderful project,” Bulkley said. “You think about making the old hospital’s second- and third-floor apartment accessible and having that vibrant community center down below, it’s just a win-win for everyone.”

“We really feel like it is,” Mesner responded. "We are really grateful to be in Columbus.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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News Editor

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram, Schuyler Sun and The Banner-Press newspapers. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015.

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