‘The end of a long dream’ — Senior living community celebrates opening

By Jenna Lawson – Staff Writer

A $10 million dollar senior living development on the site of the former Community Hospital is complete after over a year of construction.
The project created nearly 50 units and is Springfield’ first “pocket neighborhood.”

Construction on Community Gardens started in Sept. 2017 near the intersection of Burnett Road and East High Street.

“It’s the end of long dream of creating a really special senior community for Springfield,” said Neighborhood Housing Partnership’s Executive Director, Tina Koumoutsos, during a grand opening celebration Tuesday.

Koumoutsos said the community is designed to get neighbors to interact with each other. Several front porches face each other and sidewalks connect each unit.

There are also no steps anywhere in the community, so it’s able to be accessed by anyone.

“It’s gonna be a great for our seniors to age in place and I think it’s gonna be a great asset to Springfield,” she said.

She said the need for senior housing in Springfield is very real, and the waiting list to live in Community Gardens reflects that.

“We have over 500 potential residents on a waiting list for a project like this,” Koumoutsos said.

Rents for the units will be based on three tiers of incomes and the cost of utilities will be reduced.

Koumoutsos and the Neighborhood Housing Project helped to lead the project, along with several other community partners including Ian Maute, the Vice President of Development for Buckeye Community Hope Foundation.

“It really was kind of screaming for something to be built here,” he said.

Maute said there were 50 units constructed in the first phase of construction, and on Community Gardens’ grand opening — 40 of those units were already occupied with the rest expected to be filled within the next two weeks.

The City of Springfield, also a major partner, called the project a huge win.

“This is the type of stuff our community needs. These are the types of projects that are gonna help us move our community forward,” Springfield Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck told a crowd of people who gathered for the grand opening. “There were several challenges along the way, but as Springfield does we came together as partners, as a community and found solutions to those problems.”

Getting state tax credits to finance the project proved to be one of those struggles. The first application was submitted and first denied in 2016. That’s when the Neighborhood Housing Partnership partnered with other groups like the Buckeye Hope Community and NeighborWorks America — and tried again.

It was rejected again, but then the state reconsidered its application and was eventually approved.

Many of the community partners expressed their excitement about what’s next on the agenda.

A second phase of Community Gardens will be developed. Other partners in the project include the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, NeighborWorks America, River Hills Bank and Kapp Construction.