BY KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
The Great Bend Housing Authority held a ceremonial "groundbreaking" today for the renovation of the High Rise Apartments in downtown Great Bend. The building was constructed in 1971. Last fall, it was listed on the National Register for Historic Places.
Before the "groundbreaking" ceremony, Housing Authority Executive Director Lynn Fleming spoke to the Barton County Commission at their weekly meeting at the courthouse two blocks away. She told the Commissioners that all 12 floors will be renovated, one floor at a time.
She said one of the biggest changes will be the configuration of many of the apartments. "We have a lot of studio apartments in the High Rise," Fleming reported. "That is a single room of about maybe 500 square feet. We have about 50 of those in the building right now. They're extremely hard to rent, so we are going to convert a lot of those apartments to one-bedrooms."
There are currently 91 apartments in the High Rise. After the conversion of studios to one-bedroom units, there will be 81 apartments.
Fleming explained who is eligible to live in the high rise.
"We serve low-income individuals," Fleming said. "We are establishing a preference for anyone 55 or older, but we can rent up to 20 percent of the units under the age of 55. Once approved, the rent is 30 percent of their income. We have a lot of tenants who currently are on Social Security. They might get approximately $800 a month so that makes their rent $230."
The $16 million renovation project is expected to begin this month. Hutton Construction of Wichita plans to complete the work in 13 months.