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City says upscale apartment developers need incentives too


When the South Bend Board of Public Works meets Tuesday, its agenda will include two projects in which the city is subsidizing market-rate apartment development.

The city offers significantly more help to developers of affordable housing, but it also wants to incentivize market rate apartments.

The board will consider awarding a nearly $1.2 million contract to renovate the parking garage at The Liberty Tower, which is converting the top floors of the city’s tallest building into upscale apartments. The board also will consider a final change order on a $500,000 contract to make parking lot and drainage improvements at The Hill, where developers have converted former office space across from St. Joseph School into apartments aimed at Notre Dame students.

The city and state of Indiana give more money to developers of affordable housing because it’s so much less profitable due to the lower rents.

Caleb Bauer is the city’s community investment executive director. He says the city’s shortage of higher-end apartments results in people with higher incomes living in less apartment than they can afford. Call them over-qualified renters, if you will.

Bauer says that can cause a scarcity at that price point that drives up rents, squeezing out so-called “workforce” renters.

"We have a all-of-the-above approach as it relates to housing development, in that any new unit is good for the market and can help keep rental prices down," Bauer said.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).