WILLMAR — On Sept. 1, as a construction crew led by Project One Construction moves out, dozens of families will start the process of moving into their new homes in 15th Street Flats, the first multi-family housing project to be completed in Willmar in several years.
Construction on the building, located at 1601 15th St. S.E., began in September 2018 and the Kandiyohi County Housing and Redevelopment Authority in May started accepting applications for the available units.
There are 47 units in the building, with 10 of them set aside for those with disabilities and/or those who have experienced homelessness. The other 37, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, are for families that meet the income requirements set by the tax credit program used to fund the construction.
"It is mixed income, mixed rents," HRA Administrative Coordinator Nicki Ilgen said.
The 15th Street Flats project was possible due to federal tax credits overseen by the Minnesota Housing Financing Agency and a 15-year tax increment financing district approved by the Willmar City Council. The tax credit program mandates renters must meet the family size, income and other eligibility requirements.
Twenty-seven of the units are for families making no more than 60 percent of the median income of Kandiyohi County, or about $43,440 for a family of four. The remaining units are for families making 30 percent of the median income, or approximately $21,720 for a family of four. There are also income limits depending on the size of the apartment.
"They have to be under the income limits. It has made it hard to find qualified applicants," Ilgen said.
Applicants have mostly been coming from Willmar and the surrounding area, Ilgen said, with a very few currently living in the metro area.
The 10 apartments targeted for people who have a disability or who have experienced long-term homelessness will also include housing support assistance, which will be located on-site. There will also be an on-site building manager, provided by the HRA, during normal business hours.
While the one- and three-bedroom apartments have been rented, there may still be two-bedroom units available, though applicants are still being processed. Those interested in applying can call the Kandiyohi County HRA at 320-235-8637.
Overall construction of the building went well, despite Mother Nature's best efforts.
"We've had really good sub(contractors)," said Nick Schoenecker, job supervisor from Project One Construction. "It went pretty good."
Weather had its impact though. The cold wasn't helpful and then there has been all the precipitation.
"Just shoveled, shoveled a lot of snow," during the winter, Schoenecker said. "Dealing with the rain this spring."
A special feature at the building are the two-story, three-bedroom apartments.
"Those are new," Schoenecker said.
The building is secure, so visitors will need to be buzzed in by those they are visiting. Other building amenities include a community room with kitchen and patio, a playground and picnic area, coin-operated laundry rooms on each floor, an exercise room and an elevator. Each apartment also has a dishwasher and ceiling fan along with its own heating and air-conditioning system.
"Project One has been great to work with," Ilgen said.
As construction wraps up outside and inside 15th Street Flats, Ilgen is looking forward to the moment it opens its doors to residents, many who may have had housing challenges in the past. She hopes 15th Street Flats changes that and offers families stability.
"A place they can call home and a sense of community," Ilgen said.