JENNINGS, Mo. — State lawmakers, local officials and developers met in Jennings today to officially cut the ribbon on a senior-citizen housing complex built on the former River Roads mall site with state housing development tax credits.
Stacy Hastie, President and CEO of Environmental Operations Inc., the project developer, said the project could only exist because of the partnership between private interests and local elected officials.
“There’s no way this project would be successful or even in existence without collaboration between the city, the state and the developer,” Hastie said. “I have to thank Brian May and the governor’s office and the [Missouri Housing Development Commission].”
Hastie said the 42-apartment development was the cornerstone of future re-development on the former River Roads site. Hastie said the construction of the Jennings Place development was simply the first step in new businesses and developments on the land. None of the development would be possible without low-income housing tax credits, Hastie said.
Brian May, who helps lead the MHDC as Gov. Jay Nixon’s representative, grew up not far from the Jennings Place development site, saying his personal ties to the community were part of the reason he attended the event. May told those in attendance that the work done by the MHDC is among some of his favorite to participate in.
The development marks one of the first major re-development attempts in Jennings and the surrounding region since the economic downturn of 2008, which left some developers holding the bag on half-finished projects. But in the wake of last year’s unrest in Ferguson and increasing calls for new money and resources for the city’s worst neighborhoods, Jennings Place represents perhaps one of the first successful calls to do just that since Michael Brown’s death.
Other local leaders,including several members of the Jennings City Council, were in attendance as well. State Senator Jamilah Nasheed thanked those involved for the project and vowed to “hold the line” to preserve future LIHTC tax credits. Jennings Mayor Yolanda Fountain Henderson said she was proud to see quality developments on the new site, which she fondly remembered as a place for quality shopping and arcade games for kids.
The new development is already 100 percent leased with a waiting list around 300. The apartments range from one and two bedrooms and start at about $500 per month. Units include full kitchens with washers and dryers, and the facility includes a fitness center, theatre room, on-site storage and a general dining area.
“There are a lot of projects just like this one around the state that are possible because of [LIHTC] tax credits,” Hastie said. “I point to one like this when people start talking about cuts. This is serving the community, and it’s serving seniors.”
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.