Mansfield News-Mirror

West Mansfield's Pioneer Place already in demand before foundation is poured

A rending of the 135-unit Pioneer Place on West Broad Street. The first apartments could be ready by January.
A rending of the 135-unit Pioneer Place on West Broad Street. The first apartments could be ready by January.

The first apartments at Pioneer Place could be ready by January and there’s already a list of seniors waiting to move in.

The 135-unit complex broke ground in April at 1197 W. Broad St. and workers are getting ready to pour the foundation in July. Having quality affordable housing for seniors in West Mansfield has been a dream of Bethlehem Baptist Church and its senior pastor, Michael Evans, for decades.

The church congregation has seen immediate demand from future residents ages 55 and up who qualify to live in income-adjusted housing.

“The first day that we were able to receive applications we had over 80 individuals submit their names,” Evans said. “It’s amazing watching it. It’s not a run-of-the mill affordable housing complex.”

Some 22 units and the clubhouse could be ready early next year; the entire project is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

Amenities will include an exercise room, library, salon, community courtyard and central laundry. Residents will have events and classes they can participate in, too.

“We wanted to build something that’s comparable to the other complexes in town if not better,” Evans said.

Also, Pioneer Place secured $13.8 million in low-income housing tax credits from Hunt Capital Partners, who sold the credits to J.P. Morgan.

The influx of financial support and residential demand proves what Evans and his congregation have known all along. In addition to the tax credits, the project secured a $5.8 million construction loan. The total development cost of the project is nearly $20 million.

“We’ve spent 25 to 30 years trying to convince potential suitors, whether it’s retail or housing, to come to West Mansfield,” Evans said. “The Bethlehem Baptist Church is serving as the catalyst for the transformation and economic development here in West Mansfield.”

The project is being developed by the Historic West Mansfield Texas Community Development Corp., an affiliate of the church. Treymore Construction is the prime subcontractor. When Pioneer Place opens, Carleton Management Services will manage it.

Billy Teschke, director of project management for Hunt Capital, said he was drawn to the project because Bethlehem’s congregation supports it.

“It’s a sponsor that really cares about the project,” Teschke said. “It’s filling a need and a mission for them. It makes financial sense. I work on a number of affordable housing projects. We don’t have many that are this mission driven with a group like Bethlehem Baptist. It will definitely be a landmark project to be involved in. They’re not going to let it fail.”

A new worship center

Like the rest of Mansfield, Bethlehem Baptist Church has been growing fast with new members joining the African-American church every year. Founded in 1870, Bethlehem has always been a beacon of hope for West Mansfield with Evans has carrying that torch of advocacy and equality since becoming pastor in 1991 at age 24.

The church has outgrown the old Sammons Chapel so it hosts worship services in the gym to the west. The church built the gym in 2006 and will have a note-burning celebration on July 1 to mark the final payment. That also commemorates Bethlehem’s 148th birthday.

With that debt paid off, Bethlehem will move forward with a new 64,000-square-foot church complex that will include classrooms for children and adults, a nursery and a new sanctuary topped with a steeple. The old chapel and classroom buildings will be redeveloped. Construction was originally slated to begin in 2020 but Evans said they’re considering accelerating the project because building material costs are skyrocketing.

“We’re in the midst of a capital funding campaign right now, which is helping us to raise part of the fund to make this happen,” Evans said. “We need space.”

The facility will cost an estimated $12 million to $14 million.

Market Street plans to open an 80,000-square-foot grocery store on May 25 next to Mansfield High School.