244-unit senior housing apartment complex proposed for Hamilton

The complex will include a clubhouse, fitness center, library, walking trails and a public art sculpture garden.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A national developer and manager of affordable senior housing wants to build a complex in Hamilton.

First, however, Dominium Inc. is seeking to rezone one of two parcels it’s planning to purchase in order for the development to happen.

The planned project would sit on two parcels in the 7500 block of Gateway Avenue and requires the zoning of one to be changed from multi-family to residential planned development so Dominium can build a single 244-unit, four-story apartment building for seniors 55 and older. The second of the two parcels is already zoned as residential planned development.

City council will consider the request in two meetings in February and will hold a public hearing on Feb. 14.

Preliminary plans for the proposed 68,000-square-foot building show three types of apartments (one-, two-, and three-bedroom units), and it will be restricted to senior tenants earning 60% or less of the area median income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Features of the complex will include a clubhouse, fitness center, library, walking trails, 59,549 square feet of passive park space along the perimeter of the development, and a public art sculpture garden.

The financing for the project would include private activity bonds issued by Butler County Port Authority, 4% low-income housing tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, a conventional construction loan, and a Freddie Mac permanent tax-exempt loan, according to the company and city documents.

To be able to make the project happen, Dominium is seeking several variances, including having fewer parking spaces than required and no covered parking. Hamilton’s code would require there be 363 spaces as drawn, but there are only 298 planned. Sam Lerche, a development associate with Dominium, told City Council on Wednesday they could add more parking if it’s warranted. Lerche said that based on the other properties, the company manages nationwide, most of their tenants don’t have more than one vehicle.

“We have about 40,000 units nationwide,” he said. “This is something we have seen across the country. (It’s) something that we discussed at Planning Commission, that if the city believes that down the line (more parking is) needed, we can certainly build those additional spaces.”

Hamilton’s zoning code calls for a lower density than what’s been asked for, said city Planning Director Liz Hayden. The company is seeking nearly 100 more dwelling units than the zoning code would permit for this site, which also only permits a three-story building and Dominium is seeking a variance for a fourth story.

The project would eliminate a playground area for the Woods of Sycamore Creek subdivision, but Dominium plans to relocate it, which will also address a concern for the community’s HOA and residents, said Hayden.

“Part of the project is that (Dominium is) going to buy another undeveloped parcel that is adjacent to the subdivision and they’re willing to move all those amenities to that site,” said Hayden. “All of the property owners in Woods of Sycamore Creek and are well aware of this project and are supportive. One of their goals is they have dealt with this other property in the past and their preference is for that property to not be developed because of traffic concerns in their community. This achieves one of their goals because this would be park space instead of new housing.”

The proposed senior housing project would be accessed off Gateway Avenue and have no access to the Woods of Sycamore Creek subdivision.

Planning Commission also placed what Hayden called “a unique condition” on it as it’s something the city of Hamilton hasn’t dealt with previously during her tenure with the city. Because this development is expected to be a heavy user of the Hamilton Fire Department’s EMS services based on similar projects around the community, there’s a recommendation for approval that if there are more than 18 non-reimbursed patient transports annually (resetting every Jan. 1) Dominium will reimburse the city.

Hayden said West Chester Twp. has used this condition for similar projects in their community, and the conversation on this condition is still ongoing with Dominium, Hayden said.

Some council members and city leaders questioned how they can enforce the 55 and over restriction, which Lerche said is a 30-year land-use restriction that accompanies the financing, and they have the intent to renew that restriction at the end of the 30 years. They also cannot end that restriction early, he said.

City Council will consider the request at its Feb. 14 and 28 meetings, with a public hearing planned for Feb. 14.

If approved after Feb. 28, the process will restart as they’ll seek a final planned development approval with Hamilton Planning Commission, where greater details will be presented and discussed. Lerche said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that apartments would start at around $1,300 a month for a one-bedroom, which is about 900 square feet.

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