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Southwest Ohio gets 3 more affordable housing developments

Developers and neighborhood, city and county leaders at a ceremonial ground breaking for Vandalia Point in Northside.
Nick Swartsell
Developers and neighborhood, city and county leaders at a ceremonial ground breaking for Vandalia Point in Northside.

Affordable housing projects in two parts of Greater Cincinnati hit milestones this week.

Crews broke ground Thursday on a long-awaited project called Vandalia Point in Northside and opened up another project called Griffon Apartments in OTR. And officials on Wednesday cut the ribbon on a rare rural affordable housing development in Hillsboro, an hour outside Cincinnati.

Vandalia Point will feature 52 units of housing affordable for people making 30% to 60% of the area median income. That means the units will rent for between $521 for an efficiency to $1,577 for a three bedroom.

Recent data suggests Cincinnati needs about 19,000 units of housing affordable to low-income people.

Tight-knit Northside has long been a popular place to live, and as demand for housing has gone up there, so have rents. Census data shows Northside saw some of the biggest increases in housing costs in Cincinnati, and that some residents have likely been displaced due to those increases.

RELATED: Issue 24 asks voters to change Cincinnati's charter to fund affordable housing

Community Council President Bree Moss says the hope is Vandalia Point can provide an opportunity for some of those residents to come back to Northside.

"Northside's been the place to be for a significant amount of time now," she said. "Unfortunately, over the last decade, the people who made Northside so desirable have been incrementally priced out. This development is a great step toward rebuilding opportunities, making room for our creative members who couldn't afford to be creative here anymore to move back and to proudly regain the diversity we've been losing."

Speakers at the groundbreaking highlighted the fact that the development has a number of affordable, larger-sized units for families — especially tough to find in today's housing market.

"I've been hearing for years from families that there are so few places they can live with multiple kids in the city," State Rep. Dani Isaacson said at the groundbreaking.

The parcel on Vandalia Avenue and Blue Rock Street was previously eyed for a market-rate project by developer PLK Communities, but the Northside Community Council opposed that plan.

The property hosts two buildings that will be incorporated into the new development. One of them hosted Cincinnati industrial magnates Powell and Lewis Crosley's first radio factory. The duo later moved to Camp Washington as their manufacturing empire took off.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and Urban Sites have partnered on the development of the project. The two groups are utilizing funding from the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County via the Cincinnati Development Fund, federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and other sources. It hit roadblocks as construction costs skyrocketed, Urban Sites Vice President of Affordable Housing Tim Westrich says.

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"This is the hardest environment to do a project I've ever seen," he said. "Because supply chain issues made the cost of the materials increase so much, the construction budget on this project went up almost $3 million since we got it funded last May."

Vandalia Point wasn't the only development reaching a milestone that day. City officials also cut the ribbon on Griffon Apartments, a 48-unit scattered site development in various locations in Over-the-Rhine by Model Group and 3CDC.

The units are priced for renters making 50, 60 and 70 percent of the area median income. Some of those units are three-bedrooms for larger families. The project received funding from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, the Downtown/OTR West TIF district and other sources.

Like Vandalia, Griffon involves both new construction and historic preservation elements.

The day before crews broke ground in Northside and opened up housing in OTR, officials cut the ribbon on another large affordable housing development in Hillsboro called Fenner Ridge Apartments.

The project by Midwest affordable housing developer Wallick also utilized Low Income Housing Tax Credits to build 56 one-, two- and three-bedroom units for low-income residents as well as a club house, fitness center, computer center and playground. Wallick says the development is fully rented.

Estimates suggest Ohio needs more than 245,000 units priced at the levels Fenner Ridge and Vandalia point rent for.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.