Homestead unveils completed atrium renovations at September Apartments

News editor

Community members got their first look Friday at the remodeled Marion Atrium building at a ribbon cutting ceremony at September Apartments.

Tom Bishop, executive director of Homestead Affordable Housing, told 20 present the work was long overdue.

“When they did the appraisal for us to look at a value, they appraised it as a 13-unit building instead of 20 because they said seven weren’t fit for habitation,” Bishop said. “Shows you what we started with.”

The primary goal of the renovation was to “humanize” the facility, Bishop said.

“At the end of the day, anybody can build housing,” he said. “For us, it has to be housing that has the components that make the quality of life where people can build a community here. That’s my goal, that the people of Marion are going to live here because they like one another, they like the exercise room, the computer center, the movie nights, and all that stuff.”

A dropped ceiling hides the old peaked, windowed ceiling, improving heating and cooling in the commons area. The kitchen area has a new look and new appliances. Residents can use an exercise area, computer area, and a lounge area with a fireplace. Two existing apartments in the building were converted to two-bedroom units, and two new, larger units were added.

Bishop highlighted the collaboration between Marion High School and general contractor Accel Construction in completing the project.

“Luke (MHS industrial education teacher Lucas King) and his students — I think they like demolition,” Bishop said.

“We gutted pretty much everything but the drywall,” King said. “It was great for our class to work with a contractor so we could see all the different aspects of what went into it.”

“It was a really fun experience — we don’t get to do that,” Accel’s W.L. Shafer said. “I think a lot more towns and cities should consider doing this.”

Bishop said he hopes the facility will draw new people to Marion.

“This isn’t going to be limited to the people who live in Marion,” Bishop said. “If everybody relocates and fills these quickly, that’s fine. But whether they’re from Peabody or Burns or Hillsboro or Wichita, we need to fill these up.” Bishop added that other Homestead facilities have 20 to 30 percent who’ve moved from another community.

Prospective residents must have incomes that are 60 percent of the area median income or less. A single person with an annual income of approximately $24,000 would qualify, Bishop said.

Qualified applicants who sign leases before the end of September won’t pay any rent until January, Bishop said.

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