The City Council approved the plan for a second attempt at making the old Regency Inn into a permanent supportive housing facility by a unanimous vote at the Tuesday, May 23 special meeting.

Before the council meeting that began at 5:30 p.m. in the Katie Dorsett Council Chamber, the City Council held a work session on the plan to contract with Step Up on Second Inc. to acquire, renovate and operate the old Regency Inn as a permanent supportive housing facility with 57 units for people who are chronically homeless.

According to Tod Lipka, president of Step Up on Second Inc., who spoke at the meeting via Zoom, Step Up, which is a nonprofit organization based in California, operates 25 of these motel conversions across the country.

The $3 million that the city has already invested in purchasing the old Regency Inn will be converted to a loan to Step Up that will be forgiven after the facility has been in operation for 20 years.

One of the more interesting aspects of the proposed plan is that Lipka said that Step Up estimated the cost of renovation of the Regency Inn at $3 million. Under the previous plan by Partnership homes, the estimated cost of renovation was $10 million.

There were no questions at the work session about how Step Up was going to be able to renovate the old Regency Inn for less than a third of the cost estimated by Partnership Homes in 2021.

The resolution to contract with Step Up was on the agenda for the Tuesday, May 16 City Council meeting, but councilmembers had so many questions about the plan that the item was continued to the May 23 meeting.

Councilmember Zack Matheny seemed to have the most questions at the May 16 meeting, and at the work session Matheny said he had met with City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba, Director of the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department Michelle Kennedy and Lipka for about an hour and was now “comfortable” with the plan to provide permanent supportive housing.