ELWOOD – Not-for-profit developer New Hope Services Inc. is putting the finishing touches on 11 patio home duplexes and one single-family home erected on sites razed through the city’s Blight Elimination Project.

The duplexes, expected to start leasing as early as later this month, are part of the $10 million energy-efficient project known as The Lofts at Leeson’s. The affordable housing development for people ages 55 and older and people with disabilities also includes the renovation of the former Leeson’s Department Store.

Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said the project will put residents in the heart of the uptown area.

“It’s going to address our lack of adequate housing,” he said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for this community, and we look to future investment by New Hope Services. It will change the outlook of the uptown area.”

Elwood Economic Director Marcy Fry said The Lofts at Leeson’s is likely to attract more business to the heart of the city’s business district.

“With residents in the uptown area, I can foresee more economic development in the uptown area, increasing the walkability for residents,” she said. “We’re going to need more stores in the uptown area.”

The Lofts at Leeson’s are being completed, in part, using $7 million in rental housing tax credits and development funds of $500,000 from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The project is one of 16 in 12 counties that have been awarded funds.

The project also is made possible through $1.4 million in historic tax credits, loans and other grants.

Elwood was one of three communities in Madison County, including Alexandria and Anderson, that have been awarded blight elimination funds.

The project also includes a lease without expiration from the city of 28 parking spaces.

Jim Bosley, president and CEO of Jeffersonville-based New Hope Services Inc., said though he’s not based there, building in Elwood made sense because of previous projects the company developed there.

In 2003, New Hope constructed Forest Glen, a 55-unit senior project, one of the first tax credit projects in Elwood. In 2012, the company acquired Duck Creek.

Bosley said he often drove by the Leeson’s building when it was a discount furniture store and wanted to enhance its historic qualities while creating much-needed housing for seniors. That building will contain 23 two-bedroom units.

New Hope also bought a building next door to Leeson’s but was unable to save it, Bosley said.

“It was going to be too difficult to rehab. We hope to put a pocket park there with some benches,” he said.

The Lofts at Leeson’s, Bosley said, was inspired by a similar project using blight elimination sites in Brazil, Indiana. After more than 15 years of planning, the Davis Trust Co. building, most recently used as a flea market, reopened in 2018 as Davis Zeller Place, an affordable housing complex.

“We turned the Davis Building back into a great structure with unusual apartments of all different sizes,” he said. “That’s the same thing I am trying to do with Leeson’s.”

New Hope maintains waiting lists on its properties, which usually are 100% occupied, Bosley said.

“We were building a pretty large waiting list up there. That was enough rationale for me,” he said.

The two-bedroom, single-story duplexes, which are scattered around the city, will be completed first because they are new construction, Bosley said.

The units are expected to be rented at 30% to 60% of area median income. Though he is reluctant to reveal final rental prices on the units, Bosley estimates they will run between $350 and $600, depending on the unit.

“It all depends on the income of the residents and the number of people in the household,” he said.

Bosley said it’s estimated 40% of seniors don’t have vehicles, so the future walkability of the area will be important.

“The hospital is right there,” he said. “On these senior deals, we try to get them within a mile or so of the emergency, the pharmacies and grocery stores.”

Available duplexes

The duplexes that will come available first are located at 203/205 S. 27th St., 2336/2334 North A St., 206/205 S. 27th St., 201/203 N. Sixth St., 207/209 N. Sixth St. and 2703/2705 South A St., in Elwood.

For more information, call 765-552-0493 or 765-557-0024.

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