May 27, 2017
By Shannon Hall
The Evansville Housing Authority knew that changes could happen at Lincoln Estates but they didn’t move families from their voucher program until the property changed ownership.
The new ownership, which bought the property in April, notified a few dozen residents that they can no longer live at Lincoln Estates because of unpaid rent, said Rick Moore, Evansville Housing Authority executive director.
Others, he said, have leases that end soon, and the company isn’t renewing the leases so they can renovate the apartments.
The sudden change caused low-income residents to move within 30 days. Some residents complained at the mayor’s town hall Wednesday that it’s a hard task for low-income residents to move so swiftly and to pay for all the moving costs.
According to court documents, Lincoln Estates Redevelopment, LP, didn’t make any mortgage payments for the Lincoln Estates housing complex to the bank from March to November 2015.
It’s unclear who represents Lincoln Estates Redevelopment, but the investment group contains various investors including the Evansville Housing Authority.
The investment group decided it was best to offer to buy the property instead of paying the rest of the mortgage said, Evansville Housing Authority Executive Director Rick Moore said.
“Because it was not operating efficiently over time … it just didn’t make financial sense for us to continue and try to keep this afloat,” Moore said. “It wasn’t just that we couldn’t have afforded it. The financing and the banks that we would have to go to fund that project to keep it affordable, they wouldn’t approve it.”
Moore said when he was hired as the Evansville Housing Authority executive director in 2011, Lincoln Estates operated at a deficit.
Lincoln Estates Redevelopment LP received a court order in July 2016 to pay almost $2 million to the mortgage holder in unpaid principle, interest, late charges, real estates taxes, hazard insurance and default interest, but the bank bought the property days after the court’s judgment.
The Evansville Housing Authority offered the bank about $1.5 million for the property, but it rejected their offer, Moore said.
“They thought they could get more out of it, which they eventually did,” Moore said. “So our offer was based off what we thought we could cash flow, and so they just didn’t accept.”
Bayview Loaning Services LLC held the property for about 9 months and then sold it in April to City Pointe Evansville LLC for $2.6 million.
The Courier & Press has been unable to identify individuals associated with City Pointe Evansville LLC.
According to the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, City Pointe Evansville LLC lists George Zarris as the registered agent the company.
Listed agents can be lawyers, partners, or the actual owners of the corporation. A George Zarris who lives in Crown Point, Indiana denied being involved with City Pointe Evansville, LLC.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said Wednesday.
Moore said about 20 families who the Housing Authority houses through the government subsidized voucher program have been relocated.
The property was built in 1999 with private developers using tax credits. Using tax credits guarantee the property stays as affordable housing for 15 years. After that, the owners could opt to apply for additional tax credits.
But before the period ended, Moore said the partnership began looking at the different possibilities for the property. Applying for additional tax credit wasn’t an option because Moore doubted it would be approved because of the lack of cash flow.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Lincoln Estates.
The management group currently collecting rent from Lincoln Estates residents told the Housing Authority that they would allow people who have housing authority vouchers to return living at the complex when the renovations finish, Moore said.
“It’s unfortunate because Evansville needs more affordable housing,” Moore said. “We’re in the business of trying to provide that.”
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