JOPLIN, MO. -- Financing is in place to renovate an affordable housing development heavily damaged by a tornado in May.

U.S. Bank, lead bank of U.S. Bancorp, and developer Dominium announced the $15 million renovation of Oak Meadows into 1502 Michigan Place. Residents moved out when Oak Meadow’s 14 buildings were deemed inhabitable due to roof, window, and water damage.

Nearly all of the residents are planning to return in the spring of 2012 when the improvements, including a new community center, are completed, according to officials involved in the renovation.

“Affordable housing is desperately needed in Joplin, which currently has less than 1 percent rental vacancy,” said Armand Brachman, co-managing partner of Dominium, in a statement.  “This renovation will put much-needed needed affordable housing units back on the Joplin market.”

Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston noted the magnitude of the cleanup and rebuilding efforts.  More than 7,500 of the city’s residential dwellings were damaged, with approximately 4,000 suffering extensive or catastrophic damage, he said.

U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. committed more than $11 million in federal and state low-income housing tax credit equity in support of the redevelopment and made a $1.8 million Affordable Housing Assistance Program (AHAP) donation to the project.

Federal and state LIHTC financing and the Missouri AHAP Program—which are administered by the Missouri Development Housing Commission—accounted for 86 percent of total development costs.

Great Southern Bank is providing a construction loan and a more than $1.6 million first mortgage, with funds from Dominium completing the financing sources.

Minneapolis-based Dominium is renovating the exterior of the buildings and landscape as well as completely remodeling the interior units, adding new appliances, mechanical systems, and bathroom fixtures. A new community center will house a centralized laundry facility, a leasing office, a computer lab, indoor and outdoor play area, a multipurpose and maintenance room, and a police substation.

During an Oct. 25 groundbreaking, U.S. Bancorp also announced a commitment pledge of $10,000 in support of a computer lab within the new community center.

Complete renovations will be finished by April 2012, with some buildings to be ready for occupancy by February 2012. Residential units in the newly rebranded 1502 Michigan Place will be available to families earning less than $28,860 a year for a family of four, or about 60 percent of the area median income.

John Schiffer, director of LIHTC asset management for U.S. Bancorp, noted that investing in projects like 1502 Michigan Place is critical to putting people back to work while filling the gap in cost-effective housing. “In the wake of Joplin’s recent tornado, access to affordable housing and new job opportunities are of critical importance for the recovery of the city,” said Schiffer.

He said at least 96 jobs will be created during the rehab construction process, and four permanent jobs once the building is up and running.