QUINCY -- The renovation of six downtown Quincy apartments will be partially funded by the city's downtown rental rehab program.
The Quincy City Council on Monday approved spending $150,000 in tax increment financing district funds to support the projects.
Renovations are slated for four apartments 123 N. Fourth, owned by DP Properties, and two apartments at 127 N. Sixth, owned by TRBK Properties. The property owners will invest $427,402 of their money to cover the cost of the renovations.
This is the fifth year for the program, which has helped renovate 25 downtown apartments.
"I think you are seeing a resurgence in downtown living," said Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development. "Prior to this program, we did not have much downtown upper-story housing inventory, but we are starting to get some of that back. These apartments are often underutilized or vacant properties that are being made into apartments."
The District Executive Director Bruce Guthrie agreed. When the rental rehab project started five years ago, occupancy rates for downtown ground-level space was more than 90%, but upper-level occupancy rates were about 30%. He added that today's occupancy rates for downtown properties has increased thanks in part to the program.
"There is a market of individuals who want the downtown living experience," Guthrie said. "There are a lot of people who want to live in an urban setting, where they can walk to the park, go to dinner, go shopping all in their neighborhood."
Guthrie said while downtown apartments remain popular with young professionals and recent college graduates, Quincy's downtown also has gained popularity with other older age groups.
Bevelheimer and Guthrie said studies have shown how each downtown resident generates $15,000 in economic activity for local businesses.
Developers are eligible to receive zero-interest loans of up to $25,000 per residential unit through the TIF downtown rental rehab program. If the owner maintains the units in code-compliant condition and does not sell the property for five years, the loan is forgiven. Developers must at least match city investment and spend their own funds first.
Projects are scored by a committee on the rate of return, ratio of public-to-private investment, type of units being renovated, parking effects, downtown effect and whether the project previously has received TIF funds.
Guthrie said he hopes more downtown property owners will consider applying to participate in the city's downtown rental rehab project next year.
"I think this is a great way to utilize these spaces that are vacant because we do not have a lot of demand for additional retailers or office spaces in the upper stories of downtown," Guthrie said. "We do have a high demand for apartments, and we anticipate having that demand for several years into the future."