published Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Senior complex funded with tax-exempt bonds but $40 million complex will pay property taxes

A new luxury housing development for seniors will be financed with tax-exempt bonds and owned by a non-profit organization.

But the proposed $40 million WholeLife Traditions community to be built next to the Red Bank Elementary School on Mountain Creek Road will still pay property taxes as if it were a private development, developers told a city bond board Wednesday.

Stan Brading, a former Miller & Martin attorney in Atlanta who heads the Samaritan Housing Foundation Inc., said his group will own the 104 cottages targeted for seniors. As a nonprofit owner, Samaritan can take advantage of cheaper tax-exempt financing and ensure that any profits are put back into the complex for tenants.

The Chattanooga Health, Housing and Educational Facilities Board on Wednesday endorsed the project. If approved by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, the developers will finance the project with portions of an already approved $120 million bond issue from the Public Finance Authority in Madison, Wisc.

"We hope to close the bond issue by the end of the year and start construction as soon as possible," Brading said.

Oklahoma City developer John Lowery is proposing to develop the 39 acres he owns on Mountain Creek Road for Samaritan to own and rent the cottages, which will range from 1,600 to 1 850 square feet each and each include a two-car garage. The units will be built along with a community swimming pool, fitness center and Wholelife Club with concierge services.

The units will rent for about $3,500 a month, or $2 a square foot.

"That is competitive with the prices for other independent living, adult communities in the region," Lowery said.

The developer said census figures indicate about 26 percent of Chattanooga's population is over age 62. To qualify for the tax-exempt bonds, at least one resident of each cottage must be age 62 or older. Unlike other government-assisted housing projects, however, these senior housing units will not be restricted to low or moderate income seniors.

In the Chattanooga region, Lowery estimates there are about 178,000 persons who are at least 62 years old "so there should be more than enough demand for the 104 units we're planning to build."

Chattanooga will be the first of up to 10 such communities Lowery is planning to build for more affluent and active seniors, including other Tennessee facilities in Pigeon Forge and Franklin, Tenn.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 757-6340

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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