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Plans proceed on converting admin building into apartments

By
JIM LINCOLN

The Tecumseh Planning Commission held a public hearing on Tuesday to consider the eligibility to convert the Tecumseh Public Schools’ administration building into a 43-unit mixed-income housing complex.

The proposal includes 65,162 square feet of residential living units consisting of one, two and three bedroom apartments to be constructed in the historic building, as well as construction of a 4-story addition. The current annex, built in 1964, would be razed for the addition.

In an agenda review from Building Services Director Brad Raymond, the hearing was set up to consider the eligibility of the property to be developed as a Multi-Family Residential Planned Unit Development (PUD) by project developers Woda Cooper Development (WCD), a Columbus, Ohio-based company with offices in seven states.

TPS is currently negotiating the sale of the building to WCD, with a recent sales offer of $30,000.

Tuesday’s hearing was held virtually with three members of the public speaking, including Brian Elliott. Two women who spoke were not identified.

Elliott said he supports the project and was happy to see more barrier-free housing opportunities. “As someone who uses a wheelchair, I am excited to see this project come to this community.”

Other comments questioned the availability of parking, plans for a fence or barrier between the site and adjacent homes, and whether WCD would accept tenants under Section 8, a government subsidized assistance program.

Senior Vice President of WCD, Craig Patterson, was among 13 attending the meeting virtually and addressed the project and the concerns raised during the hearing.

Patterson described the rehab project, one of several WCD has completed in the mid-west, as an adaptive reuse plan.

Patterson said WCD sees the TPS building as a “treasured community asset” that is desirable due to its close location to the downtown and nearby parks; the open space on the corner of Ottawa and Shawnee streets; and parking space for 39 vehicles. He said the proposed four-story addition would have architectural features similar to the administration building.

WCD will seek a waiver requirement of a five-acre minimum for PUD sites and will work with the city to address parking requirements. The proposal is not a Section 8 project, however, if someone with a Section 8 voucher applied, they would be considered, Patterson said.

The Planning Commission will vote at its Tuesday, Dec. 8 meeting on a recommendation for a PUD.  The recommendation will then be forwarded to city council for consideration at the December 21 regular meeting.

Patterson said tentatively WCD will apply for project funding on February 1, 2021. Approval for funding will take 120 days. Pending funding and site plan approvals, construction could begin in May of 2022 and take approximately nine to 10 months.

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