NAMPA — The City Council heard from 12 people Tuesday, concerned about a proposal to use urban renewal to help reimburse the costs of a project to renovate the long-vacant former Mercy Hospital building into affordable senior housing units.
Some of the people who spoke at the meeting also provided Mayor Tom Dale and council members with numbers and other information to go along with their testimony. Based on the amount of information provided, the Council voted 3 to 1 after a lengthy discussion to table the decision until its next meeting March 4 to have more time to look over the information. Council members Pam White and Martin Thorne, who both also serve as commissioners on the Nampa Development Corporation board, expressed mixed feelings about the project after listening to the testimony of those opposed.
The old hospital building on 16th Avenue between 8th Street South and 9th Street South was built in 1919 and has been empty for more than 10 years. Community Development Inc. wants to convert the building into about 50 units of senior housing, with the majority reserved for low-income residents. The project is estimated to cost $8.6 million.
In order to make that happen, the developer is seeking low-income tax credits that require a 5 percent local funding match. That funding match will come in the form of tax reimbursements, which means it won’t be at a cost to taxpayers and the city assumes no risk or debt with the project, according to the NDC. The city will reimburse up to $350,000 of tax money back to the developer over 10 years for expenses for public infrastructure associated with the project and historic restoration.
Many of the people who spoke in opposition to the project said it was not cost effective. When the project is complete, the assessed value of the building will be $2.5 million because it is low-income housing, Beth Ineck, Nampa’s assistant director of economic development, said. That had some people concerned.
Others expressed concern over Nampa’s property tax rate and were worried that projects like this one would continue to raise taxes. Some also expressed a general dislike of urban renewal in general.
A representative for the developer, who was the lone person to speak in favor Tuesday, said there is a need in the area for low-income senior housing that this project would fulfill. He said the building also has historical significance and this project would preserve it, but it won’t be possible without the local funding match.
- EDITOR’S NOTE: This is report is based on an audio recording of Tuesday’s meeting.