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The Journal Gazette

Complex for homeless vets gets push

48-unit apartment plan may turn on tax break at Tillman Road site

CANI wants to establish a $5 million housing complex targeting homeless veterans.

Community Action of Northeast Indiana plans to build a 49,000-square-foot complex with 48 one-bedroom apartments at the former Hillcrest Elementary School on Fort Wayne's south side.

CANI President and CEO Steve Hoffman said officials have worked on bringing the project to life since November. The group is seeking a tax abatement that would save $812,662 over 10 years, according to documents filed this month with city officials. The request will be introduced to the City Council on May 14.

Hoffman said gauging the number of homeless veterans is difficult.

"We know that (at least) two transitional facilities are full," Hoffman said.

Similar residences in Fort Wayne are Shepherd's House on Tennessee Avenue, New Life House on East Jefferson Boulevard and Liberty Landing on Calhoun Street.

Shepherd's House currently has 11 beds available for veteran's in need, according to Barbara Cox, who runs the facility with her husband Lonnie.

CANI would own Hillcrest Pointe, 711 E. Tillman Road, but the Fort Wayne Housing Authority would manage the property. Hillcrest Elementary, which closed more than 30 years ago, in all likelihood, would be razed, Hoffman said.

Besides housing, Hillcrest Pointe would offer social services, a laundry, theater and community rooms, food pantry, computer center and a covered pavilion with a gazebo.

The project would create a building maintenance position and a leasing agent post. Both would make about $20,000 a year.

The Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System has placed more than 200 homeless military veterans in federally subsidized apartments since 2008.

Company to expand

Vita Nonwovens, 9403 Avionics Drive, also is seeking a 10-year abatement. The company, a manufacturer of nonwoven fiber used in automotive, filtration, medical and mattress industries, plans to spend about $1 million to grow its operations.

Vita Nonwovens would save $121,998 over the course of the abatement that also is set to be introduced to the council May 14.

The project is a 19,200-square-foot addition for manufacturing and warehouse space. Vita Nonwovens will create nine full-time positions and eight part-time jobs, ranging from $25,000 to $72,100.

In 2011, Vita Nonwovens, invested $1.2 million to install a new lamination line at its factory.