Bethlehem Baptist Church announced plans for a 135-unit apartment complex for senior citizens on West Broad Street.
The affordable housing project has been a dream for the Bethlehem congregation for more than a decade, Pastor Michael Evans told the City Council on Monday night.
Seniors shouldn’t have to decide between paying rent and buying medication or groceries, Evans said.
“Our goal is to make sure that our seniors live out their golden years in tranquility,” Evans said. “We believe our senior adults deserve that.”
The project, called Pioneer Place, would be subsidized by state and federal tax credits for residents ages 55 and up. Rent would be based on income levels and could be as low as $280 per month.
The highest rent would be $800 per month, still much lower than the average rent in Mansfield.
The 113,500-square-foot facility would have a high-end finish out built by Carleton Development, the same developers that did the Villas di Lucca and Villaggio apartment complexes in Mansfield.
The council voted unanimously in support of the project,which bolsters the church’s application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the tax credits.
The zoning change and site plan for Pioneer Place goes to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 7. The council will have the final say on the zoning change in February and March.
Council members asked whether children would be allowed to live in the facility. Evans said no children would be allowed to live there, per deed restrictions. Children can visit for up to eight days.
The majority of the units will be one bedroom, while the two-bedroom units will be limited to three residents.
Construction could start in the spring of 2018 and the units could be ready for move-in by the summer of 2019, Evans said.
The 146-year-old church purchased the land for the 5.5-acre site at 1197 W. Broad St. last year for the purpose of building affordable housing.
“Bethlehem has long determined as it concerns making positive change in the community, we have to do more than just talk about it,” Evans said. “The members learned a long time ago that we’re going to have to be the catalyst to make things happen.”
All the apartments, community rooms, health and wellness centers and media rooms will be under one roof so residents won’t have to fight the elements. There will be outdoor courtyards that will be wheelchair accessible.
Mansfield will not be subsidizing the rent -- that will come from state and federal sources, Evans said. The city could be asked to contribute toward infrastructure in the future, he said.
An affiliate of the church will own the facility but another company will operate it.
Bethlehem also partnered with National Housing Advisers, a consulting group.
Michael Evans Jr. said seniors built this community but too many of them struggle to live off Social Security. Many live in homes that have fallen into disrepair without the means to take care of themselves, he said.
“Our seniors do need us,” he said. “They need us to provide affordable quality housing.”