Just keep an open mind about a $13 million project to convert a 110-year-old landmark into 75 apartments using low income and historic tax credits, one of the co-owners of the developer urged about 40 East Side residents Friday.
Stacy Jurado-Miller, one of the co-owners of the Vecino Group LLC in Springfield, outlined the plans for the Capitol Avenue Lofts project at the long-shuttered International Shoe Factory on East Capitol Avenue. Capitol Lofts would be available to individuals with annual incomes of $24,000 and families of four with incomes of $34,500, offering 10 studios, 36 one-bedroom, 25 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartments rented for $603 to $897 per month.
"Hopefully, I calmed some concerns about what this project is and what it is not," Jurado-Miller said after the meeting. "We have heard directly and indirectly from a number of people who are concerned this is going to be just another low-income housing project, which will mean overcrowding, crime, Section 8 vouchers, lack of management and other problems, including causing overcrowding at East School.
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"That's not what Vecino's about, that's not how we plan, build or manage our project," she said.
She suggested residents could call the police department in any community in which Vecino has a development to confirm her claim they had zero complaints. She said the company does thorough background checks on tenants, including rental histories, criminal records and incomes.
In a phone interview after the meeting, she said the audience asked reasonable questions. "That's all we can ask, really, is that the people in Jefferson City keep an open mind about our project," she said.
After the meeting, Mayor Carrie Tergin said, "I'm all on board with this. I have been since I first heard about it. I have not found or heard a thing about it I don't like. It will be good for the neighborhood and the East Side, where we want and need development.
"It will definitely be good for the continued development of (decommissioned Missouri State Prison) MSP. They (Vecino) are not coming to the city asking for tax credits. They're going to be paying their full share of taxes, which will be good for the school district and supportive of East School right there in the neighborhood."
Contacted after the meeting, Ward 4 Councilman Carlos Graham said, "I am absolutely open-minded about this. I'm still up in the air about my full support, but I am open-minded. My big concern is overcrowding at East School and how it will be managed.
"I don't want to see another situation like we have with (the low-income housing project) Monroe Street, where there is no management at night and on weekends, when things, bad things, begin to happen. I don't want that."
Graham also was encouraged to hear Vecino plans on maintaining ownership for the full 30-year term. "Lots of these developers come in, get started and sell the project off to some out-of-town investory," he said.
Later Friday, Bruce Adib-Yazdi, the design and construction manager for Vecino, said the Missouri House Development Commission had postponed its scheduled March 10 meeting, at which Vecino had anticipated approval for Capitol Avenue Lofts. He and Jurado-Miller said they were hopeful the agency would schedule a special meeting in Columbia in March.
The lead architect on the project is Kate Medin Stockton, a Jefferson Citian who is now an architectural and interior designer with Vecino.