SPENCER, IA — U.S. Congressman Steve King, local officials, supporters and residents of Sunset Apartments gathered Wednesday to mark the start of renovations to the affordable senior living property that Community Housing Initiatives, a Spencer-based nonprofit, acquired last month.
Currently known as Sunset Retirement Home, this property has been a critical housing resource for Clay County seniors since it was constructed in 1965. Major additions to the property expanded it to the 100 apartment community it is today in the early 1980s and mid-1990s.
“In the first place, the options available to finance projects like this are competitive and require a quality application to be submitted,” said Kris Illg, CHI’s Director of Construction and Rehabilitation. “Ordinarily that is a significant challenge in and of itself. But at Sunset, two previous additions to the property helped make a complex financing structure that had to be untangled before we could take possession and start this work—and that challenge made this project unique.”
Ultimately a number of people including Congressman King, Iowa’s Senators Grassley and Ernst, staff from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Iowa Finance Authority, and others all worked together to help find a way to manage the situation and preserve the homes of Sunset residents for many years to come.
With parts of the building now at 50 years in service, building mechanical systems and the elevators have been stretched to their limits and will be upgraded or replaced. In addition, refreshed apartments will feature resident-friendly features like in-unit laundry, and enhanced energy efficiency. As smaller efficiency apartments are enlarged and modernized, the number of apartments available will decrease slightly to 91 when work concludes.
Work on the property will begin immediately with construction completed in 2019. Funds for the work were provided by the Iowa Finance Authority’s housing tax credit program and senior revolving loan fund program as well as the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. The project’s contractor is Midstates Builders, Inc. of Spencer and the architects are ASK Studio of Des Moines.
Sunset Apartments also received considerable support from the Clay County Community Foundation which awarded the property a maximum $10,000 community betterment grant in April, 2018.
Founded in 1994 in nearby Graettinger, Iowa, Community Housing Initiatives now serves communities statewide. When Sunset renovations are complete, CHI will offer 231 apartments in Spencer including 143 exclusively for seniors. Most recently, the organization opened Southern Pointe Apartments, 30 three and four bedroom apartments in town in 2016.