While the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, which granted same-sex couples the right to marry, holds deep meaning for LGBTQ+ Americans across the country, it has a special place in Cincinnati, Ohio. John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, the couple at the heart of the contentious legal dispute, met in the city in the 1990’s. Now, developer Pennrose, LLC is honoring the late John Arthur with the first affordable housing complex targeting LGBTQ+ seniors in the city, which will bear his name. John Arthur Flats will offer a range of supportive services and facilities aimed at fostering a community steeped in pride.
According to CREA Account Manager Jeff Nelson, the past years of hardships presented a challenge. However, the team was able to push through to make this development a reality. “A development like this is difficult in ordinary times, and getting to this point is even more of an accomplishment given the disruptions this past year from a pandemic, working to keep everyone involved safe, and navigating remote work and materials disruptions.” Nelson said. “This property represents not only years of work on behalf of Pennrose and NEST, but decades of advocacy.”
The new development will feature 57 one- and two-bedroom units for prospective residents, as well as a host of supportive services sourced from Pennrose itself as well as local organizations such as the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio. The Cincinnati nonprofit Caracole, an HIV/AIDS service organization, will also provide onsite care for residents in need.
Additionally, John Arthur Flats will feature a community center dedicated to another local figure. The Maureen Wood Community Room carries the name of a late Cincinnati businessowner and advocate, and will provide residents with a convenient, safe place to congregate within their new home.
The development wouldn’t be possible without the various partnerships between Pennrose and parties both in and out of Cincinnati. One such relationship is with Fifth Third Bank’s Community Development Lending and Investment team, which provided both the investment equity and construction and permanent debt financing to make this property possible. Pennrose is also partnering with local community development corporation NEST (Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation) to successfully integrate new residence.
Jim Obergefell, husband of the late John Arthur, spoke highly of the property and its connection to Arthur’s life in a release. “I’m incredibly touched that NEST has chosen to remember and honor my late husband John in this way,” Obergefell said. “…I’m confident he would be honored to be remembered in this way, especially when this property benefits the oft-overlooked community of LGBTQ+ elders.”
The location of the property is conveniently located within walking distance of several dining and shopping establishments, as well as the McKie Community Center which offers fitness programs, entertainment and more for residents. John Arthur Flats will also boast several onsite amenities, including:
Aforementioned supportive services
Signaling an understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ+ seniors in particular, Pennrose Principal and Senior Vice President Tim Henkel had this to say of John Arthur Flats: “LGBTQ older adults continue to face higher rates of poverty and housing discrimination, and we have made it a priority to create innovative housing solutions to help address this issue,” In this new home, the elders of the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati can hope to live free of some of the inequities they have known in the past, and look forward with ease to the future.
The property is currently slated to open in 2022 in the Northside neighborhood of the Cincinnati, Ohio metro area.
In addition to LIHTC equity, the Property will be financed with a $7MM construction to perm loan from Fifth Third Bank, a $1.25MM OHFA bridge loan, a $1MM soft HOME loan from the City of Cincinnati, a $448k soft loan from NEST (for the land contribution value), and a $523k FHLB grant that is structured as a GP contribution.