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New housing in the works

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news Worthington, 56187

Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- With multiple waiting lists filled with names of people looking for housing in Worthington, efforts are under way once again to respond to the demand.

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Talks now are focused on the construction of six apartment complexes consisting of six units each. The units would include a combination of both two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Partners in the project include the Worthington Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) and the city of Worthington. Wells Fargo has contributed $10,000 toward the project, and other funding partners continue to be sought, including JBS.

"Right now we're going through the due diligence to determine if the project is economically feasible," said Brad Chapulis, Worthington Director of Community and Economic Development. "In the next few months we want to solidify ... plans."

A preliminary site has been identified for the project, but nothing has been done as of yet to secure property. With the cost of land and construction, Chapulis said the rough estimate for the project is $3.7 million.

While he said it's too early to say if the project is a go, local officials who work in the housing industry say there is a definite need in the community.

Rosie Rogers, director of the HRA, said that agency has a waiting list of 384 people for Section 8 (subsidized housing) in the seven-county region, with another 146 people waiting to access low-rent public housing. Both of those figures are just heads of household, and do not include spouses or any dependent children.

Meanwhile, SWMHP also has waiting lists, according to Lisa Graphenteen, chief operating officer. For the three properties the agency has in Worthington, there are 17 names on the waiting list for a one-bedroom unit; 27 for two bedrooms; 35 for three bedrooms and one name for a four-bedroom unit.

Those waiting lists were used as a guide in determining how many and what size units to construct, Chapulis said.

"The product we're looking at is a market-rate (project)," he said.

"There will be some income restrictions, but they're more generous," Graphenteen added.

Preliminary talks are that the units would be available to those who fall within 110 to 130 percent of the area's median income. For a single person to qualify for a unit, their annual income could not exceed $54,600, she said.

Chapulis said the 2009 housing study conducted in the community showed a need for "all different aspects of rental housing," from low to moderate-income to senior housing.

"We would accomplish a lot of those goals," he said, adding that there is talk of updating the study to get a clearer snapshot of Worthington's current needs.

If the housing project moves forward -- the HRA board has signaled a willingness to do so -- Chapulis said construction would likely begin in the spring, with completion approximately one year later.

"We'll know a lot more in the upcoming months," he said. "Getting through October and early November, we'll have a clear idea of whether the project is going to proceed."

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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