Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 17, 2013

Housing proposals offered for property along Goshen’s millrace


GOSHEN — Two housing project proposals for a redevelopment area on the east side of the city’s millrace will be reviewed by the Redevelopment Commission on April 9.

A group of local families, represented by richard miller construction inc., Goshen, is proposing to build a communal neighborhood of Arts & Crafts homes while a South Bend property developer, Matthews Inc., is proposing to build townhouses and flats.

The two proposals are dissimilar in how they would use the approximately 6 acres that stretch north from Douglas Street west of Third Street. The area has been reclaimed by the Redevelopment Commission, which financed the removal of old factory buildings and underground storage tanks and had contaminated soil removed from the land. Mark Brinson, development director for the city, said the soil had levels of lead and arsenic that exceeded government standards.

“The earliest we envision a decision (on which concept to adopt) being made is in May,” Brinson said.

The review of the proposals was already delayed 30 days because neither met the requirements the commission set down in its request for proposals. Becuse of that, Brinson said state law required the city to extend the proposal deadline for a month.

He said the Redevelopment Commission members will ask questions about the plans at the April meeting. If a plan is selected this spring, then negotiations with the winning plan sponsor would begin.

Millrace Neighborhood proposal

The richard miller construction group is know as the Millrace Neighborhood. That group is proposing to purchase the two parcels along the millrace for $140,000 while Matthews Inc. is offering $20. The price offered may or may not be a factor in a decision by the commission, which has a goal to have the property developed for residential purposes and the property put back on the city’s tax rolls.

“We have people who have an interest, who have met, some once and some three or four times,” Miller said. “We have deposits from nine households.”

He said there are a some unknowns concerning infrastructure and development details, but his group would like to leave the north-south alley on the east edge of the property pretty much as it is and have homes face a central commons area.

A preliminary cost estimate for the one- and two-bedroom cottage-style home prices would be between $120,000 to $180,000 with waterfront town homes costing $199,000 to $295,000. The houses would range from 900-square-feet in size up to 1,800-square feet. All the house would be certified “green” for energy efficiency, according to the proposal.

“One thing thing we are trying to work at are those units that are oriented toward an inner courtyard, have a walkable front yard and porches that are 10 to 15 feet of the sidewalk...,” Miller said. “Having that 15-foot distance encourages conversation. People who have expressed an interest in this type of facility want to have a new neighborhood.”

He said that personable interaction among neighbors is something Goshen social service agency LaCasa and the city government have been trying to re-create in the older sections of the city. To facilitate interaction, Miller said each home will have a front porch.

There would also be a common house, featuring a warming kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a meeting area, where visitors to the families in the neighborhood could stay for short periods. There would also be a garage for common use, such as minor vehicle maintenance and storage of bicycles. Parking would be under carports along the perimeter of the property.

The concept will not appeal to everyone it the city, but there is interest from some residents.

“We think there will be two distinct groups moving in, young professionals and 55 and older,” Miller said. “It’s probably not a community to raise a family in, not that it couldn’t be, but generally they are looking for lots that are larger.”

“It’s an exciting concept and it’s an exciting possibility for Goshen and the redevelopment of that area,” Miller said.

Mill Race Townhomes and Flats

Matthews LLC’s proposal is more traditional. The company proposes building a row of townhouses and condominiums along the property with a green space and bicycle/pedestrian trail between the homes and the millrace.

The townhouses and flats would be sized from 1,100 square feet to 5,400 square feet. Units would cost from $186,000 to $1 million, depending on the size and amenities wanted by the buyer.

The brick-faced townhouses would be multi-level, up to three stories. Each townhouse would have a private front yard separated from neighbors by iron fences.

The option for flats would consist of a single floor living unit in one of the buildings. Those units would have a communal front yard patio or porches.

“The plan provides for a pedestrian-friendly, walkable environment,” Matthews LLC states in its proposal. “The most precious space, along the waters’s edges, is preserved for public enjoyment. The dwelling units will have private yards and will overlook the public space. The layout generates lasting property values throughout the neighborhood. Over time it is likely the existing housing inventory to the east will go through remodels and renovations and they will see an increase in property value because of the enhanced waterfront access.”

Matthews is not seeking a tax abatement for the property and said in the proposal that when completed the homes and flats would add $15 million assessable value to the city.

Matthews LLC staff could not be reached for comment about their proposal. Both proposals can be viewed online by going to http://www.goshenindiana.org/content/redevelopment.