When asked what makes his hometown of Culver, IN, a special place, one of the first things Kevin Berger mentions is Lake Maxinkuckee. The second-largest natural lake in Indiana, it draws vacationers from all over the Midwest, many of whom own summer homes on its shoreline. And like in any popular lake town, those vacationers expect to be able eat in local restaurants, shop in local stores, and generally have access to amenities beyond the lake itself. All of that requires a local workforce, but what happens to the town when there’s nowhere those workers can afford to live?
That was one of questions that led to the development of The Paddocks, which opened last July and offers 48 affordable two- and three-bedroom apartments designed to expand the labor force in Culver, draw new residents to the community, and increase enrollment in its schools.
“We’re fully leased already, and 33 of the apartments are occupied by residents who are new to Culver,” says Berger, who led the development process in his capacity as the President of Easterday Construction, which owns The Paddocks. “About the same number of children have entered the local school system since moving in. Both of those things were major goals for this project, and it appears to have been a success.”
IFF provided a $750,000 loan for the $9.6 million project, which grew out of a community planning process that began in 2013. Those initial conversations led to a comprehensive plan for economic and community development that earned Culver (population: 1,129) statewide recognition as a Stellar Community, unlocking resources for transformative development projects like The Paddocks in the rural community.
The photos below – taken by Albert Photographic – showcase The Paddocks, which includes three blocks of townhomes with eight apartments apiece, three multi-family buildings with eight apartments in each, a community facility, and a variety of outdoor amenities.
What’s in a name?
The property that The Paddocks sits on has been in Berger’s family for generations and was once a working farm. When Berger and Easterday Construction began to develop the site, they chose to honor that legacy by naming the first project – market-rate housing that’s adjacent to The Paddocks – the Sand Hill Farm apartments.
The Paddocks continues the farm theme, with a unique tie-in to the Culver community. Culver Academies’ Black Horse Troop has performed at 18 Presidential inaugural parades dating back to 1913 and served as an escort at countless national and international events. At the entrance to The Paddocks, a life-size black horse statue named Spirit welcomes residents and visitors to the development. The name for the horse was chosen to honor a popular member of the Black Horse Troop and to recognize the community collaboration and effort invested in the Stellar Communities process that made The Paddocks possible.
Location, Location, Location
The Paddocks is located less than a mile from the northwest corner of Lake Maxinkuckee and only four blocks from Culver’s Main Street, ensuring that residents can quickly and easily travel to and from work at the many businesses that support the local economy. The Paddocks serves residents earning between 30 and 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), ensuring that it can meet the needs of a broad cross section of Culver’s workforce.
To bring the project to fruition, the development received a 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocation from the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA), with CREA serving as the equity investor. Additional financing was provided by IFF, Lake City Bank, and the IHCDA.
Redefining what affordable housing can look like
The Paddocks’ townhomes and multi-family buildings each boast unique designs. The structures of the multi-family buildings are reminiscent of horse barns and include green siding, while the townhome façades feature real fieldstone and multi-colored siding that brings energy to the property. According to Berger, these design features are meant to avoid a homogenous, institutional look that people sometimes associate with affordable housing.
Of The Paddocks 48 homes, 36 are three-bedroom apartments and 12 are two-bedroom apartments. There are seven floorplans for the units and the facilities are built on a curving road, necessitating small differences in the apartments’ layout that further help avoid a homogenous look and feel. The two-bedroom units are a minimum of 875 square feet, while the three-bedroom units are a minimum of 1,075 square feet. In each unit, Easterday implemented features to elevate the design aesthetic.
“We wanted the apartments to feel modern, so there’s white trim everywhere, brushed nickel hardware, and plank style vinyl flooring that mimics hardwood,” explains Berger. “The architect’s original design called for a lot of pocket doors, but we switched to barn doors that tie into the theme of the development and contribute to a more refined interior design. The feedback from residents has been very positive. A local TV station interviewed a few of them when we had an open house, and they talked about how they weren’t able to afford living in apartments like these before moving into The Paddocks. That was pretty touching.”
Creating a resident-friendly environment
Because one of the goals for The Paddocks was to bring new families to Culver who would enroll their children in the local school district, the development includes a bus shelter and play area for kids made from tires and logs. The Paddocks has already exceeded its goal, and Easterday is planning to add a second bus shelter at The Paddocks to accommodate more children and build another play area more akin to a traditional playground.
Additional amenities at the property include laundry facilities and a picnic/grilling area, with an Amazon storage locker coming soon.
The Paddocks are certified green apartments, and the focus on environmental sustainability extends beyond the facilities to the landscaping at the property. Easterday hired a local firm experienced in sustainable practices to design the landscape, resulting in a mix of standard lawn turf, low-mow fescue, a “prairie buffer” between The Paddocks and an adjacent development, and a pollinator garden with native wildflowers. The property also includes two detention ponds to control stormwater runoff.
“The goal was to have the best of both worlds here,” says Berger. “Because this complex is geared toward families, we wanted adequate areas of turf where children would have the opportunity to play. These areas of turf are used to border the native, naturalized areas. Incorporating the low-maintenance native plants is more environmentally friendly, and it has reduced ongoing landscaping costs. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
To learn about additional affordable housing projects IFF has supported in Indiana, click here.