WILMINGTON — A three-story apartment building on Prairie Avenue will be demolished, and replaced with six one-story buildings in which most of the residential units will be for seniors.
This Episcopal Retirement Services Affordable Living LLC development, to be named Prairie Gardens, is anticipated to start later this year and has an end-of-2022 time frame to complete construction, said Bona Kim, an associate with ATA Beilharaz Architects out of Cincinnati.
Kim was the presenter of the site plan at a Wilmington City Planning Commission meeting this week in city hall. A review of the site plan led to planning commission approval as a part of the process.
The new townhouse-style buildings when completed will have a total of 32 residential units.
Episcopal Retirement Services Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations Bryan Reynolds said 21 of those units will be for adults 62 and older. He added that typically those are designated for lower-income seniors.
The other 11 residential units will be designated for what is called permanent supportive housing. Reynolds said that’s a model that combines low-barrier affordable housing, health care and supportive services to help individuals and families lead more stable lives.
The new buildings will blend in well with the neighborhood, said Kim.
Parking for Prairie Gardens will be in a corridor area within the development site, rather than on the street.
Clinton County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Taylor Stuckert said the amount of parking that is being developed is slightly below what the zoning code calls for. But he said the Board of Zoning Appeals approved a variance on April 5 for the project, allowing the proportion of the planned space for parking to go forward.
At the planning commission meeting, Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth said he wanted to comment on a letter by a concerned citizen who lives on Columbus Street, which is not far from the Prairie Avenue site.
“I think everybody in this room knows we’ve had drug issues out there in that area for a long time. I know our police force does its best,” the mayor said.
Then he added he thinks the Prairie Gardens development will help those kind of issues in that neighborhood.
On the same topic, Kim said Prairie Gardens with its six one-story buildings will have a lot of entry points with people coming and going, and thus a lot of residents’ eyes picking up on what is going on around the properties.
The general contractor will be Model Construction out of Cincinnati.
The building to be demolished is Quaker Apartments, 274 Prairie Avenue, which has 80 residential units, according to Kim’s presentation. She said Quaker Apartments is old and run down.
After Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) received tax credits last year for the Prairie Gardens project, Quaker Apartments residents were advised their building would be coming down, said Reynolds.
He added that Episcopal Retirement Services has enough housing inventory so that it should be able to accommodate all Quaker Apartments residents. At this point, Episcopal Retirement Services has not formalized the specific transitional plans of which buildings people are going to move to, he said.
But ERS’s Prairie View building on the same Prairie Avenue campus is empty now and currently being renovated and has 74 units.
“The main thing I would want to convey is that we’re going to make sure that every resident is taken care of,” said Reynolds.
Episcopal Retirement Services is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.
By way of local history, Quaker Apartments on Prairie Avenue was the first building constructed as part of a Wilmington Friends Meeting housing ministry — a service to the wider community begun in the last third of the 20th century. It was the first apartment building in Clinton County to offer rental assistance to qualified tenants, according to a booklet celebrating the Wilmington Friends Meeting’s 150th anniversary.
Quaker Apartments received its first tenant on Christmas Eve 1970, states the booklet, and by the following May all its apartments had been rented.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.