LEBANON — James Lutz’s family has a long history of military service and serving veterans.
His great-grandfather, Edward C. Allworth of Corvallis, was a World War I hero who became the director of the Oregon State University Memorial Union for decades and housed returning veterans after World War II. The veterans home in Lebanon is named in his honor.
That’s why Lutz and his partners are planning Applegate Landing Apartments, a 48-apartment complex ranging from studio units to three bedrooms off Strawberry Lane and Airport Road. Although open to all applicants, preference will be given to veterans, who will also benefit from programs provided to them by government and private organizations.
“Twelve units will be designated specifically for veterans and the remaining 36 will be veteran preference,” Lutz said.
The ground-floor apartments will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and upper units will be ADA-adaptable, Lutz said.
Lutz, 47, said rents will be based on a sliding scale.
Lutz said the project is driven by escalating rents in the mid-valley and the issue of homelessness among veterans. The complex will be family-friendly, Lutz said, welcoming residents of all ages.
“Depending on income levels, the studio units may rent for as little as $300 per month on up to $900 per month for the three-bedroom units,” Lutz said.
The apartments will range in size from 550 square feet to 1,100 square feet.
Units will include hookups for washers and dryers, although there also will be a laundry area in a clubhouse, which will also have an exercise room and recreation room with pool tables and other amenities. Each unit will have a small outside storage area and balcony, Lutz said.
“Near the clubhouse there will be a fire pit area with picnic tables and a nice patio,” Lutz said.
The key to the project is if it can secure Low Income Housing Tax Credits to help subsidize the $12 million cost.
Daniel Bullock, senior development manager with CASA of Oregon (Community and Shelter Assistance Corp.), said the low-income tax credit program is “extremely competitive” especially in rural communities. (CASA of Oregon, a statewide nonprofit organization, works to develop housing and to assist in improving the quality of life for farmworkers and their families.)
Bullock has been helping the sponsors determine where the project might fit in terms of funding programs, as well as how to submit applications.
“We provided input about where to build, who they want to serve, how mixed-income developments work and other considerations, such as how they might deliver community services to their residents,” Bullock said. “James has experience in construction and his partners are experienced in real estate, but none of them had done this type of project before.”
Bullock said applications for the Low Income Housing Tax Credits were due in January. He said awards may be made in July.
The project has received letters of support from the Linn County Board of Commissioners, the city of Lebanon and numerous veterans groups such as the American Legion.
“The work of Crossroads Communities in conjunction with Applegate Landing Veterans Housing would be a valuable answer to some of the problems surrounding our veterans and their families,” noted County Commissioner John Lindsey in a letter of support. “Crossroads Communities is not just another affordable housing contractor; they are needed to help serve those who have served us. As a longtime elected representative of the citizens of Linn County and as a wartime veteran, I fully support this much needed project.”
Crossroads Communities is a Lebanon group that provides services including transitional housing to those in need. Lutz said he's working with the group: “Through Crossroads and other entities, we plan to provide our residents with peer counseling, educational opportunities and job skills programs. They also will have access to various levels of home care services.”
Crossroads Communities founder K.J. Ullfers said the idea of being able to provide numerous services and connections to local programs in one place is exciting.
“Lebanon doesn’t have a problem giving,” Ullfers said. “We do have a problem doing so in a coordinated way. This will allow us to help residents connect with the VA, Teen Challenge, LBCC and mental health services.”
Ullfers added that the property is a “great location” that is close to shops and is on local bus lines.
“There is so much potential for helping residents get necessary life skills such as being responsible, shopping, doing laundry,” Ullfers said.
Lutz, who said he hopes to break ground in spring 2020, emphasized that the idea is not to build another veterans home such as the Allworth home, which provides services to veterans with health issues. Applegate Landing Apartments will be a housing complex, not a care facility.
Lutz said the complex will include a dog park and a community peace garden, The property borders a proposed expansion of the Build Lebanon Trails system.
Lutz said the property has been secured. Wetlands studies, a market analysis and conceptual drawings have been completed. The property is already zoned mixed density, Lutz said.
“I feel good about where we are,” Lutz said. “I believe our plan will score well in terms of applying for the Low Income Housing Tax Credits. But, we will just have to wait and see.”