Muncie Housing Authority proposes $6 million Millennium West project

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, In - A new  public housing project using an old labor hall in south Muncie is being proposed by the Muncie Housing Authority.

 Millennium West is the name of the $6 million venture, using federal tax credits and the old United Auto Workers labor hall at 1125 S. Walnut St.

 Guillermo Rodriquez, MHA chief executive officer, detailed plans Tuesday following an update of 2013 projects to the housing board of commissioners. Another project is to transform the old Garfield School at 1600 S. Madison St. into a community center.

 A year ago, the housing authority initiated plans for another Millennium project similar to the neighborhood built along South Madison that replaced the former Munsyana Homes.

 The labor hall, owned by a limited liability corporation with the initials IML, would be an anchor and more housing would be built on vacant lots around the site. Rodriquez said 64 apartments were proposed and it would likely be run by a private developer.

 When the MHA built the first Millennium, it hired Flanney & Collins of Indianapolis to manage the housing, and then let the developer manage Centennial Place that replaced Parkview on Centennial Avenue last year.

 That new urbanism design with Easter egg colors is the rage of inner city housing in the Midwest and elsewhere. 

 Rodriguez told housing commissioners that final work on the tax credit application was done, and a decision on funding could happen in the spring.

 The community center project is an income producing venture to bring social services and other community outreach to the neighborhood.

 Board Chairman Ed Faulkner anticipated an announcement this week on details of that project that also was initiated by the MHA.

 The MHA is looking for innovative ways raise income after finding the federal government reducing public housing subsidy besides their own decisions to let private developers manage new public housing.

A 2012 audit reviewed by housing commissioners on Tuesday showed a 27 percent decline in revenue to $7 million, with reductions in operating and capital grants and other dispositions.

 The MHA that also operates Earthstone, Southern Pines and Gillespie, has about $23 million in assets and around $8.1 in expenses, including $4.6 million in Section 8 rent subsidy vouchers for low income tenants.

 Housing commissioner Eric Kelly, a Ball State University planning professor, believed MHA management had been fiscally sound in the face of declining federal revenue and allowing private interests manage new development.

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