ELKHART - The city of Elkhart has approved economic development revenue bonds to help fund a $32 million mixed-use development planned downtown. The $4.7 million bond was approved unanimously for what the city calls the first large-scale, market rate apartments in the city in almost 30 years.

Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties is developing the property and is slated to cover $20.6 million of the project. The state is kicking in $4.4 million in tax credits and the city's redevelopment commission will spend up to $1 million for environmental cleanup and floodplain management at the former Elkhart Foundry site.

Mayor Tim Neese calls Stonewater at The Riverwalk a catalyst that will lead to more development "to further our vision for the Elkhart River District. Through public and private investment, we aim to transform East Jackson Boulevard into a more attractive place to live, work and invest." He adds the goal is to make the area "more walkable, diverse and aesthetically appealing." Crowe Horwath LLP projects the a local economic impact to be over $61 million for the first five years and $7 million each year after.

The city is experiencing tight housing inventory, according to city officials who cite a recent study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that suggests a need for 820 market rate units over the next three years in the Elkhart-Goshen metro area. Local manufacturing industry employers also say a lack of available housing is a contributing factor in the challenging hiring environment.

Plans call for a range of housing from one-bedroom studio apartments to two-bedroom townhomes, as well as retail space. A groundbreaking will be set later.