November 13, 2013

Prairie Heights almost ready for first tenants

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

In September of 2012, Lutheran Social Services (LSS) broke ground on an affordable housing project that was slated for completion in late August of the following year. It is now November of 2013, three months after the projected end date, and LSS is finally finding itself near the end of the tunnel.
Jessica Thomasson, director of Lutheran Social Services Housing, states that weather and contractor issues put them behind schedule. But people will be able to move in soon.
“We are finally near completion on the first three buildings of the Prairie Heights project. And in the next few weeks, people will be able to move into their apartments,” states Thomasson.
Thomasson states that the Prairie Heights project will have 12 buildings in all, and the first three buildings are expected to come on line during the holiday season.
“After the first three buildings are finished, we will just focus on finishing one at a time until they are all done,” states Thomasson. “We hope they will all be completed before  winter’s end, sometime near the end of March.”
The bulk of construction for the project has been moved inside, according to Thomasson, so to the passer-by, it may look like nothing is going on.
“The big dirt pile is gone, and the machines are gone. But we are still working out there,” states Thomasson.
Because construction is still moving ahead and will be moving ahead until the twelfth building is complete, Thomasson states that LSS will try to stage move-in dates, so it will not conflict with construction.
“There is not a lot of parking space yet, and we do not want too many things going on at once,” states Thomasson.
“We were hoping to have the opening of the development coincide with the opening of the elementary school, but that was not able to happen,” states Jim Phillips, of LSS. “But I think we will still open in enough time to get people out of campers before the winter hits.”
The Prairie Heights Development will reserve housing for low to moderate income levels and emergency service personnel serving in the area. The vision of the development was not just to provide housing, but a neighborhood with walking and biking paths.
Thomasson also states there is still room for a daycare, should the community still be in need of one when the housing units are complete.
“We still have space on the site set aside for a daycare,” states Thomasson. “We heard there was another facility that was meeting the daycare need, so we will take a look at whether the community still needs daycare once the housing project is complete.”
In all, there will be 124 units available for rent, 40 of which will be set aside to provide rents under $1,000 per month for people making low to moderate incomes.