Skywalk adds architectural element to senior-housing project

An affordable housing project for seniors will include an unusual feature—a skywalk connecting two buildings across the street from one another.

The two four-story structures, at the southwest and northwest corners of 30th and Clifton streets, will be built as part of a $10.7 million partnership between the not-for-profit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and local low-income housing developer BWI Development & Management Inc.

BWI President Gary Hobbs said the skywalk will be the first of its kind in the city for that type of development.

Clifton senior apartments 15colThe skywalk will help seniors avoid street traffic when crossing from one building to the next. (Image courtesy BWI Development & Management Inc.)

Besides its architectural significance, the skywalk serves a significant purpose. It will allow residents with vehicles in the south building to access a parking lot on the north side of the street without dodging traffic.

That area of 30th Street, sandwiched between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and the Central Canal, can use the investment, LISC Executive Director Bill Taft said.

“It’s a neighborhood that’s had a lot of foreclosure and vacancy,” he said. “There’s no place near this site that has had this scale of investment in a long time, so I think it will make a big difference.”

The project, dubbed Clifton Square, will feature 57 one- or two-bedroom units spread between the two buildings. Monthly rents will range from $266 to $543 for a one bedroom and from $319 to $630 for a two bedroom, depending upon income.

Developers also are targeting 6,500 square feet on the ground levels for a health and wellness center. Hobbs of BWI said he’s had conversations with major health care providers, including Wishard Health Services and IU Health, in addition to a couple of physician practices.

The building on the northwest corner, an old bank that last housed the United Northwest Area Community Development Corp., will be renovated. The one across the street to the south will be demolished.

BWI is in the process of purchasing the two vacant and dilapidated buildings and should close by the beginning of November. The project should be completed by December 2014.

LISC provided BWI a $400,000 loan to cover pre-development costs and is making a $9.5 million investment in the project through its National Equity Fund. BWI also received $1 million in federal tax credits administrated by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Federal tax credits are the main subsidy available for new affordable housing, but the competition for those is fierce. For 2013, the state housing authority received 61 applications throughout Indiana requesting more than $51.7 million in tax credits. The authority awarded credits totaling just $14 million for 22 projects. In Indianapolis, Clifton Square was one of only two projects to receive the credits.

“We feel that this project will be a major catalyst for continued development in that particular area,” Hobbs said.

The architect on the project is locally based The Architecture Studio Inc.

Hobbs also is working on a $10 million housing project at 1415 N. Pennsylvania St. Plans call for adding a fourth story to a vacant building.

Called Penn Place, the project will cater to homeless residents with serious mental health and substance abuse problems.

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