PRINCETON — Princeton's Common Council agreed Monday to offer the developer for a proposed apartment and housing project in the Baldwin Heights subdivision $55,000 for materials to provide sanitary sewer and water lines.

They're also considering in two weeks whether to confirm a resolution approved Monday night offering a five-year property tax phase-in package for the development of the apartments.

In February, developer Phil Reinbrecht asked the council to consider a 10-year property tax abatement package. The $7.2 million plan to develop the former school property just west of the South Main Street overpass in Princeton was granted use of $185,250 in TIF revenue in January by the GIbson County Redevelopment Commission, contingent upon the City of Princeton funding part of the streetwork needed for the project.

The project involves building two 24-unit apartment buildings and developing lots to accommodate 21 homes. Reinbrecht told the council Monday night that one home is pre-sold.

Each of the apartment buildings in the project would include six one-bedroom, six three-bedroom and 12 two-bed-room units, priced in the $795 to $995 monthly lease range, depending on size.

If the project gets financing, apartment complexes could be complete in about eight months from the beginning of construction.

The project would develop the rest of the property into lots for 21 single-family homes in the $148,000 starting range for a 1,288-square-foot structure.

Reinbrecht said he's still working to get funding off the ground for the development. "The big thing is to build the equity," he told the council. Reinbrecht's company purchased the ground from Gibson County Habitat for Humanity with intentions of developing it for housing, but he said unlike past projects that required 20 percent equity, potential lenders are requiring 28 percent equity for this location.

While the abatement of property taxes on the development of the apartment complex is helpful, Reinbrecht said building the equity to get the project off the ground is the first priority.

Local Realtor Anita Waldroup told the council the housing inventory is low for potential buyers, with about 53 homes across the county. A $77,500 home listed last week got four showings and three offers in 24 hours, she reported.

Waldroup told the council a Toyota employee with a home in Illinois told her he's staying in a boarding house and he's fearful. "He can buy a home if I can find one," she said. Another potential buyer only had a choice of three homes in the $80,000 price range to consider, she said. "They would rent, but there is no place to rent."

Princeton Mayor Brad Schmitt said the city needs to work with potential developers to provide more incentives to create housing. "Lending institutions have determined Princeton is higher-risk," he said.

Gibson County Economic Development Corp. Associate Director Tami Muckerheide told the council that a Regional Cities grant application has been made for a walking trail for the subdivision as one way to increase equity in the project.

Schmitt pointed out that development of the former school property puts it back on the property tax roll for the first time in more than a century.

Looking to the future, councilman Bill Tuley said he believes the city needs to look at developing building codes, particularly if the community experiences a housing upsurge.

Tuley said he would like to explore the issue to determine whether a part time or on-call person is needed for administrating building codes, and to plan for it in the 2019 budget process.

"I've had the discussion with builders, and they are supportive," he said.

Schmitt agreed, reporting that when he meets with development prospects, their main questions center on local schools, and whether zoning and building codes are in place.

Council member Sheri Greene said she would like to see some research regarding building codes in communities similar to the size of Princeton.

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