Nicole Warner, Redwood Falls Housing Authority executive director, is used to talking on the phone answering questions, looking for answers and dealing with all of the challenges that go with her role.
For the past four years, Warner has been on the phone a lot, as she worked to find resolution to an event that happened in January 2013. On the 24th day of that month nearly four years ago a fire wreaked havoc on the Lakeside Manor facility in Redwood Falls and on the lives of the people who called it home.
Over the past four weeks, Warner has been taking different kinds of calls.
When a fence was erected around the Lakeside Manor site in mid-November, people began calling trying to find out what was happening.
It was Nov. 14 when Kue Contractors, Inc. of Watkins moved into the building and began the project the community has been waiting a long time for, and since then walls have been going up, wiring is being pulled and what had been an empty shell is again starting to look like it was intended to – home.
Many of the calls Warner has been taking are from previous tenants, with a number of prospective tenants calling as well. They are all wondering how long it is going to be before they could potentially move in to Lakeside again. Warner likes taking those calls.
“It is the best feeling to know after all of this time that there are still people who want to come back,” said Warner.
Warner and other members of the Redwood Falls housing authority talked about the project this past week and the progress that has already been made.
All of the housing authority members expressed their happiness that the project has finally come to fruition, adding it has not been an easy road getting to this point. So, it was with a sense of satisfaction that they know the project is now heading in the right direction.
The demolition of the building’s interior had already been accomplished before rebuilding work was started.
Phil Johanneck, chair of the local housing authority, said that should mean few surprises as work continues.
By the time the work is completed, the project will have an estimated price tag of $5 million, with the funding coming from a variety of sources, including insurance, disaster funds from HUD, dollars from MHFA, as well as a $465,000 forgivable loan from DEED.
Those DEED funds were allocated to the City of Redwood Falls and were then passed on to the housing authority as a forgivable loan.
Securing funds has been a challenge all along the way, as the housing authority has been told at various times that anticipated funds would not be available. Yet, persistence has paid off, as the funding has come in to get the building back to functionality again.
There are going to be a few changes in the building. According to Johanneck, there will be 51 units in the building, which is a reduction from its original 56.
Andy Hesse, Kue Contractors, Inc. Lakeside project manager, said some of the units are going to be larger to allow them to better serve residents with handicaps.
Hesse added the entire building is going to have a sprinkler system to address any future fire protection issues.
The contract for the project allows for 300 days to finish the work, which means the work should be done some time in October 2017.
Yes, the potential does exist for people to be moving in before the end of next year.
However, cautioned the housing authority board members, that is not a certainty.
Lakeside Manor, explained Warner, is a residential facility open to anyone, with those meeting HUD established income guidelines on the top of the list.
Warner added those who were previously living at Lakeside and who want to return are being given first priority. She is already compiling a waiting list based on the number of calls she has been receiving.
While there is still plenty of the project left to be accomplished before people would be able to call Lakeside home again, those who have been working to see that day are able to breathe a bit easier as they are able to see light at the end of the tunnel.