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Springfield, MO

Housing Authority seeks developer for multimillion-dollar project

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The Housing Authority of Springfield is about a month out from developing its financial plan to build on the former Downtown Market property acquired a year ago by the public housing body.

Katrena Wolfram, executive director of the federally funded program that does business as HAS Properties, said requests for developer bids ends Sept. 14. She’s advertising the project proposal locally and nationally through the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

“I have to get the developer first,” Wolfram said this morning. “It’s the developer’s responsibility to get the financing in place.”

The public-private project calls for building an administrative office for HAS Properties on the former grocery site downtown and renovating some 765 subsidized housing units scattered around the city. The bulk of the units are in its four high rises: Madison Tower, Stillwell Commons, Heritage Tower and South Tower.

Construction crews earlier this year demolished the aging grocery store, 707 S. Campbell Ave., and the property has sat vacant awaiting a development plan.

“We’re going to do what’s called a RAD project, renovating public housing units and turning them into Section 8 with private capital,” Wolfram said, referring to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program.

According to HUD, the RAD program started in 2012 after officials identified a nearly $26 billion backlog of public housing capital improvements. After renovations are completed – HUD tallies $4 billion in RAD construction improvements nationwide so far – the housing converts to the Section 8 program for long-term affordable housing contracts.

Wolfram said previously reported HUD funding concerns are not in play. She said private financing would cover the administrative building, while HUD funds would go toward the housing renovations.

“That building cannot be financed through tax credits. The rehab of our public housing units can,” Wolfram said of the multimillion-dollar project that’ll be completed in phases over three to four years. “It’s kind of a wait and see with HUD, too. I’m trying to get everybody in place so once HUD authorizes (it), we can move forward with the deal.”

HAS Properties employs 43, she said, including 20 maintenance workers and on-site managers.

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