MIAMI – Miami's downtown will see continued growth and revitalization with Wednesday's groundbreaking event for the Route 66 Landing development and infill housing projects.

The restoration and redevelopment of the historic Mining and Exchange Building located at southeast corner of Main Street and 1st Street will offer distinguished senior living for residents over the age of 55. The property is being developed by Oklahoma Affordable Housing Partners of Springfield, Missouri as an affordable housing community project, so income restrictions do apply.

“There are two things we found special about Miami and this project," said Developer Tammy Creason. "Number one is the community. It was really just the vibrancy, the enthusiasm. It came in right on the tail end of the City adopting their Comprehensive Plan, which this project fits right in with, and I love the combination of historic rehabilitation and infill housing. Downtown, you need that balance, so going with senior units and family homes, to be able to split that up and bring that into the marketplace in a really stable healthy balance with the downtown businesses so that people are coming and going. The fact that the City has worked so hard to do demolition and acquire those lots makes it really, really enticing for developers because it’s all about dollars and cents for us and that worked to make the pieces come together.”

The projects are well underway, with demolition and construction bidding mostly completed.

“We have spent a lot of time working through plans and permitting and we are ready to pull permits and we are turning dirt officially today. We’ve been working with sub-contractors to get construction bids out,” Creason said. “Everything is out to bid and the bid is closed. We’ve gotten a great response, we had a lot of local interest. We had probably 200 people that came to the open bid meeting just to gather information.”

Affordable Housing’s legal consultant Debbie Hart, who has years of experience and expertise working with hotel development and with John Q. Hammons projects, said, “You’ve done a fabulous job of preserving the integrity of the downtown. I love the revitalization, so we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Creason has worked in the development of affordable housing for 20 years and her enthusiasm for the project is infectious.

“Honest to goodness truth, I’ve done a lot of downtown revitalization and you work with a lot of communities and when Debbie drove through Miami we were past the normal period where we thought we could put this together this fast, but she said, ‘Oh, no, wait until you see this downtown,’” Creason said. “This downtown is so wonderful and vibrant. It’s easy to get excited.”

Hart said Route 66’s single family homes are also an important addition to the downtown area.

“You have owners who have moved out, absentee landlords, so we’re really excited with this new development which comes with a path to home ownership for the tenant so we can revitalize that neighborhood. The research shows when people have home ownership they start treating that home as theirs. They landscape it, they plant annual flowers. It really does bring great revitalization to that neighborhood,” she said.

The 18 houses in the project are expected be completed by early spring of 2017 and the 24 apartments are expected to be ready for lease by early fall of 2017 and will be filled on a first come first serve basis.

“This is really rejuvenating our downtown,” Miami Mayor Rudy Schultz said. “It's really cool and I just can't wait to see a year down the road to see what this looks like, and the whole area.”

Wednesday's event marked the beginning of construction of the $6 million project. Once completed, Route 66 Landing will offer 24 beautiful, high-end finished apartments for seniors. These apartments include fully equipped modern kitchens with dishwashers, refrigerators stoves and ovens, garbage disposal, microwaves, washer and dryer connections.

“All this first floor is common space with an activity room, a crafting room, a fitness center, and the gymnasium’s staying,” Creason said.

The developer has been working with the City of Miami for the designation of parking spaces for residents and a possible special painted crosswalk.

The ground floor level of the building is being remodeled into a community club room, offering a computer lab, fitness center, storm shelter and shuffleboard area.

One bedroom apartments will lease from $300 to $425, and two bedroom apartments from $325 to $450 per month.

The property will be managed by a Springfield, Mo. professional management company, Wilhoit Properties.

“They are in seven states and have multiple properties in Oklahoma and Joplin area,” Creason said.

Carrie Eisenhower, with Wilhoit Properties, manages a special division for the company for lease to ownership properties.

“We will be pre-leasing,” Esienhower said. “When they call we will talk to them, take all of their information and put them on a wait list and then we start calling them in.”

Once a property is completely developed and completely full, Wilhoit Properties will hire a manager who will take care of the facility full time. Eisenhower said many times people view subsidized or affordable housing as less than desirable.

“They build these beautiful properties for the seniors and then we want to make sure that the seniors are taken care of. We run wait lists because, unfortunately, the need is so, so overwhelming for our seniors,” Eisenhower said. "We run wait lists on every one of our properties. When you can get an apartment for $300 and you’re living on Social Security, you literally can’t look past this. These apartments are breathtakingly beautiful. They use high end finishes, beautiful crown moulding and lovely countertops, and new appliances, because just because you’re living on a menial income, generally social security, our senior citizens have dedicated and lived their lives working and deserve a nice place to call home.”

City leaders are excited to see the Route 66 Landing projects begin, which they have been courting for some time now.

“It’s just wonderful,” Miami City Manager Dean Kruithof said. “I was involved in four of these projects when I was in Branson, and, as a matter of fact, two of them involved the people involved here. The federal tax credits they are able to use provides the funding that otherwise wouldn’t be available for a project like this to have this building converted to such nice loft apartments.”

Kruithof commented on the panoramic views of the city from the upper levels of the five-story building.

“I still am new enough I look at our downtown, I remember what it used to be, but compare our downtown to so many other downtowns in the region and we’re light years ahead. So, adding something like this and Venue 29, and the Coleman right next door, this is how you bring back downtown. It’s not only this. Right next door is what the Miami Nation is doing with their properties and what the Neals have done with theirs. These buildings were built to last forever, so you could not rebuild this. We’re just happy that they selected Miami and now we’re looking forward to the ribbon cutting.”

The developer’s projects include working with the City of Miami to use infill lots to build three bedroom, two bath single family homes near downtown Miami.

“I've said several times, if you look at the renaissance that's happened over the last ten years in our downtown compared to most cities in Oklahoma, we're very fortunate by the activity,” Schultz said. “Things like this are going to bring more activity back to downtown. Another thing that's really exciting and most people don't recognize as far as this project is the lot infills, the 18 single family homes that are going to be built all within a half-mile of this project.”

“Gaining 18 single family homes in the oldest area of town – it’s just perfect, it’s a good first step,” Kruithof said.

These family homes will offer fully equipped kitchens with all appliances, garages, playgrounds and landscaping. The three bedroom homes will lease from $500 to $550 per month.

“This area, it's an older part of town. The housing on the lots that are being torn down, they needed to be torn down," Schultz said. “They were 100 years old, but they are going to be replaced with modern housing. This is really going to make our downtown area more vibrant and help our downtown businesses, because you're going to have residential areas and people coming through downtown to shop.”