Cookeville City Council members helped a major public housing project move forward Thursday by voting to continue a nearly 40-year-old payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
The PILOT agreement allows the Highlands Residential Services to renovate the 80 units at Walnut Village and replace 52 demolished units.
Jeff Jones represents HRS and said both projects will total some $11 million.
“We are looking at all sorts of sources of revenue to do this, but on the flip side we are trying to keep expenses at the status quo and this is what this resolution does,” Jones said. “We are at the position right now where every penny counts. Approving this resolution is going to go a long way to helping us get there.”
“All the pieces of these puzzles have to come into place and if they don’t, we can’t cash flow these two projects,” Jones said.
A payment in lieu of tax agreement between the city of Cookeville and Walnut Village has existed since 1979. Under the agreement, Walnut Village pays property tax in the amount of $55.17 per unit.
The Walnut Village refurbishing project will cost about $3.2 million and be paid for with a bond allocation and 4-percent tax credits.
The Oak Tree Towers project will cost $7 million. The funding will come from $3.8 million in equity from Walnut Village and $3.2 million generated from the sale of property on the corner of Jackson Street and Willow Avenue. 52 units used to be located on that property and the Oak Tree Towers project will replace those demolished units.
“We know what the developments at the corner of Jackson and Willow looked like prior to their destruction,” Jones said. “We want to have units that have more curb appeal and that don’t look like public housing.”
HRS Executive Director Dow Harris said the goal is to begin the Walnut Village refurbishing project by November. Harris hopes to begin the Oak Tree Towers project by April of 2019.
“This is one of the biggest deals that the housing authority has ever attempted to undertake,” Harris said. “We’re looking at a really big deal for the housing authority and our community.”