EAST CANTON -- A 40-unit, three-story apartment complex for seniors could be the among the first fruits of a community planning project involving both East Canton and its neighbor, Osnaburg Township.
Village Council recently voted to rezone vacant land around the 600 block of N. Wood Street for multi-family residential use to accommodate plans to have a Cuyahoga Falls-based developer build the apartment complex. The site has been zoned for single-family residential use.
The complex will help fill a void identified by the Joint Community Plan Committee comprised of representatives of the village and township.
The Stark County Regional Planning Commission has served an advisory role in helping the committee develop plans to address needs in this area. The planning process is reviewing such elements as economic development, transportation, infrastructure and public services. But for now, according to one local public official, the priority is providing housing for the aging population.
"If you have no retirement centers anywhere around East Canton," Village Councilman Reggie McGee said. "And you are a senior citizen and you are forced out of your home, you have to leave the community. The reality is you would have to go to Minerva, Louisville, Canton or miles down south."
The plan is for Testa Companies of Cuyahoga Falls to construct the facility. A group called Helping Osnaburg Prosper Economically (HOPE) would pursue grant funding to help cover the expense.
"We our got our fingers crossed," Mayor Kathleen Almasy said. "We have 17 percent of our residents that are seniors."
The land, on the west side of N. Wood Street, currently is owned by William and Evelyn Hewett of Sebring.
Potential source for grant funding would be the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
"We are looking for housing tax credits," said Ryan Landi, vice president of development for Testa Companies. "We are looking at requesting approximately $700,000 in credits over 10 years. That will help offset the majority of the cost of the project. It would probably be awarded in July."
The apartment complex would be for moderate-income residents. But it would not be federally subsidized rent. A single resident with an annual income of not more than $25,680 would qualify. A couple with an annual income of no more than $29,340 also would qualify for an apartment.
"The units will be about 930 square feet," Landi said. "We would maintain the ownership, management, etc."
Testa Companies, in recent years, opened a similar 40-unit apartment complex in Louisville on the 700 block of N. Nickel Plate Avenue. It is called Stone Ridge Village.
"They are 100 percent occupied," Landi said.
Testa Companies also has a 42-unit housing complex in Hartville for seniors called Villas at Windham Bridge.
If plans to construct a senior citizens apartment in East Canton do not materialize, "we will look at other options," Almasy said.
The joint planning process between Osnaburg Township and East Canton began in 2014. Part of this involved assessing and evaluating the living environment of the area, which has a total population of about 5,600. Of that, 1,500 or so are East Canton residents.