CASTO, Homeport Team Up for 'Workforce' Housing


Illustration of Graceland Flats

As the “gap” for affordable and workforce housing has grown, so has the need for creative financing and willing partners. In late September, Homeport found such an opportunity with Columbus-based national real estate developer CASTO.

Graceland Flats is a novel approach to providing a mixed-income community
— Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke

Thanks to the Federal Housing Administration’s construction loan program and the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, CASTO and Homeport are partnering to build 180 apartments at the back of CASTO’s Graceland Shopping Center in Clintonville.

Ninety -- or one half -- of the one and two-bedroom apartments of “Graceland Flats” will be set aside as
workforce housing.

Leah Evans

Leah Evans

“Graceland Flats is a novel approach to providing a mixed-income community,” said Homeport President & CEO Bruce Luecke.

Homeport Senior Vice President for Real Estate Leah Evans said the deal is “one example of the new and innovative ways Homeport has been working on to create more affordable housing opportunities in places where people want to live and have access to transportation, jobs, and services.”

President of CASTO Communities Brent Sobczak called Graceland Flats both unique and innovative in its structure.

Brent Sobczak

Brent Sobczak

“This financing model has the potential to be replicated across the Columbus market,” Sobczak said.

Fifty percent of the Graceland Flats units will be rented to individuals and families whose income falls in the range of 80 to 100 percent the Area Median Income (AMI). A family of two could earn up to $62,400 a year.

Graceland Flats construction should begin in October and take 20 months, according to CASTO. The development will consist of six separate, three-story buildings at the rear of Graceland Shopping Center on a vacant lot next to an LA Fitness gym building.

Residents will have access to a resort style pool, outdoor fireplace and bike storage.

More than 54,000 families are estimated to be paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent in Central Ohio, and their need cannot be sufficiently addressed by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program that has been the financial workhorse of affordable housing since the 1980s.

Affordable Housing Trust Board Chair Robert Weiler

Affordable Housing Trust Board Chair Robert Weiler

Meanwhile, many working-class individuals and families are finding it harder to rent as the area population grows and new construction lags, which is why partnerships are needed, said Homeport’s Evans.

“The need for housing that is affordable and attainable in our community is great, greater than what we can develop on our own,” she said.

Robert Weiler, chair of the Affordable Housing Trust Board of Directors, praised the CASTO-Homeport partnership in Clintonville.

“Columbus and Franklin County support mixed-income developments like Graceland Flats to enable working individuals to share in our region’s economic success and to improve workforce stability for employers,” Weiler said.