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HRI Communities developing new apartment complex in downtown Lake Charles

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 3:45 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The City of Lake Charles and HRI Communities (“HRIC”) announced today plans for development of a mixed-income, multifamily community to be known as the “Woodring Apartments”.

It’s one of the many developers who were competing to get 9% low-income tax credits to develop affordable housing.

The development will be located along Bilbo, Mill, Hodges and Division Streets in downtown Lake Charles. Building will be conducted in two phases, with phase one beginning this winter.

CEO and President of HRI Communities, Tom Leonhard, said it’s a $35 million project.

“It’s going to be 130 units of mixed income housing that we’re developing right here on this site. We hope to break ground by the end of the year. We’re announcing the award of tax credits from the Louisiana Housing Corporation,” he said.

Leonhard said it will be a high-quality development to allow people to experience what he called a renaissance of downtown. He said it will be affordable.

“There won’t be any project-based Section 8, but we will accept Section 8. But 70 per cent of the units will be affordable and 30 per cent will be market rates,” he said.

That is, people who have Section 8 vouchers will be able to use them to reduce their rent. He also said they will try to save old oak trees on the property in their design. There used to be gasoline tanks on the property.

“Yes there will be some remediation at the site,” Leonhard said.

Mayor Nic Hunter discussed the importance of locating the complex in downtown Lake Charles:

“Downtown Lake Charles plays a unique role in the economic and cultural fabric of our community, offering us a more diverse and inviting City,” Hunter said. People like walkability, so residential options are critical for growth and sustainability in any downtown district,” Hunter said.

He highlighted the growth of downtown Lake Charles and the surplus of residential investments in the area:

“Downtown Lake Charles has seen a resurgence in recent years. The addition of Woodring Apartments will compliment other recent residential developments and add to what is becoming an incredible area for commercial, cultural, and civic activity,” Hunter said.

“This project will bring additional attainable housing options to the heart of Lake Charles, and we will be thrilled to welcome residents to Woodring Apartments,” he said.

“Downtowns are important. Walkability is important. And it’s not only downtown that this project is going to help. The geographic location of this project being more on the northeast side of town is good for north Lake Charles. It’s good for east Lake Charles,” Hunter said.

The first building phase of the Woodring Apartments will include a 58-unit multifamily building and a 12-unit townhouse building for 70 total apartments.

Amenities will include off-street parking, a community center, fitness center, grilling and picnic area, community garden, and pocket park on the corner of Division and Hodges Streets.

HRI officials said the design of the build will reflect best practices in sustainability as directed by the Enterprise Green Communities criteria with emphasis on disaster resiliency and hardened building techniques.

HRI Communities President Josh Collen spoke on the importance of a strong structure due to potential severe weather:

“Every family deserves the comfort and confidence afforded to them by a strong home, especially those living in an area that has been so frequently battered by hurricanes,” Collen said. Utilizing the FORTIFIED building standard in our construction design ensures that these families will have the safest home possible and an unobstructed path to recovery in the unfortunate event of severe weather impacts,”

“We are excited to see HRI Properties put decades of IBHS research into action,” Fred Malik, Managing Director of FORTIFIED said. “By using the FORTIFIED Multifamily standard, they are greatly reducing the risk of storm damage and helping to ensure their residents will have a home to come back to after the next storm.”

New city councilman, Ronnie Harvey, who represents this area, said he’s thrilled:

“I feel like a very lucky person today to walk in with an amazing project like this. Hats off to the mayor and everyone who’s a part of this,” Harvey said.

Company officials said they are using a fortified building standard they expect to reduce the risk of storm damage.

Three other projects in Calcasieu Parish have been awarded low-income housing tax credits: LeJolliet 2, Live Oak Village and LaFleur Apartments.

For more information on the Woodring Apartments, click here.

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