WILLMAR - Suite Liv'n of Willmar, which owns and operates an extended stay lodging business, along with several apartment buildings in the Willmar area, is planning on adding to its housing portfolio by building a new 24-unit building at Sunwood Apartments.

The existing complex, located on 15th Avenue Northwest, near Ridgewater College, has two 12-unit buildings already. Suite Liv'n purchased the complex a few months ago with a goal to build the third building next year.

The company had to present its plans to the Willmar Planning Commission in November and request a conditional use permit, which would amend the original 1976 planned unit development approval for the property, which allowed for three 12-unit buildings. The third building was never constructed.

The commission approved the permit unanimously at its meeting back on Nov. 7, with a few conditions. The conditions include constructing an enclosed structure for the garbage dumpsters and building a new fence between the apartment complex and neighboring homes.

Gabe Olson represented Suite Liv'n at the commission meeting. He said the company will be completing extensive renovations at Sunwood, including new windows, soffit, fascia and kitchens.

"It is a tired property," Olson said.

The new building would help address the housing crunch in Willmar, Olson said.

"Our goal is to provide affordable housing for modest income families. Basically it is workforce housing," Olson said. "Maybe I can step to the plate and offer more housing to people."

Suite Liv'n also purchased Meadowbrook Apartments on Becker Avenue Southeast. The company also has housing in New London, Spicer, Pennock and Hutchinson.

There were several members of the public at the meeting, who spoke during the hearing for the conditional use permit. Their concerns included reduced property values, garbage issues, increased traffic and the lack of green space for children to play once the third building is constructed.

"There is a lot of improvement that needs to be done over there," Joyce Birchard, an area resident, said.

Olson said the hope is to begin construction on the new building next spring, with it being open to tenants by the spring of 2020.

The commission also requested Olson keep an open line of communication with the neighbors as the project moves forward.