MIAMI – Five stories of beautiful, affordable living apartments for seniors in downtown Miami will be occupied by the end of December.
The transformation is remarkable of the remodel of the historical Old Miner's Exchange Building at 36 North Main Street into new, modern one and two bedroom apartments for seniors 55 and older.
Route 66 Landing's Regional Property Management Specialist Carri Eisenhauer offered city officials and media a quick tour of the building on Friday which will soon house seniors in 24 high-end apartments. The construction remodel started in November of 2016 by HBD Construction of St. Louis with JTCH Construction LLC’s owner James Andrews of Fairland serving as the on-site superintendent and coordinating subcontractors.
“We want everyone in by the end of December, so they're home for the holidays. They are saying the fifth floor will be done by mid-November, and they'll move down from there, and then they will finish the first floor amenities,” Eisenhauer said.
Route 66 Landing is a Wilhoit Properties, Inc. and Oklahoma Affordable Housing Partners of Springfield, Missouri project which has taken on enterprises such as this for 14 years now.
“We are designated for seniors living on fixed incomes. As a society we find our seniors work their entire life then live in limited income from Social Security. These are our Grandmas and Grandpas that shaped this great nation, and we want to honor them,” Eisenhauer said. “I’m super, super passionate about affordable housing and seniors."
Each stunning apartment unit offers a grand vista of downtown Miami, spacious living quarters with open kitchens and living areas, and large bedrooms and bathrooms and plenty of closet space tastefully finished in modern earthen tones.
Fully furnished with appliances including electric range, refrigerators, microwaves, dishwashers, garbage disposal, stackable washer and dryers, and easy accessibility throughout, the spacious apartments will soon be home to many.
The first floor will include common areas including lounges geared toward both men for games and cards and women for quilting and crafts, a fitness center, and a community area with tables and chairs and a kitchen.
A sturdy concrete walled reinforced storm shelter is located centrally on the first floor for the residents use.
All but the community area is blocked to public access and only available to the building's residents for added security.
Large windows throughout the building offer light and views that are truly visually astonishing. The finishes are rich and luxurious with pendant lights, louvered doors, and fine attention to detail. Universal design is used for accessibility for walkers or wheelchairs if needed.
“This is just such a nice view. Beautiful,” Miami’s City Manager Dean Kruithof remarked looking out the windows of a corner unit filled with light on the October morning.
“This is how the elderly should be living,” Miami Community and Economic Development Director Kristi McClain said.
Eisenhauer said the City of Miami has been great to work with on the project.
“The City has been unbelievable. Let me tell you, I’ve done this for 24 years, it is not always that way, for real. One of our biggest obstacle that we face are cities because they hear low-income housing and they don’t want it in their communities, or they have a completely different picture than what this is,” she said. “And so we get fought tooth and nail, but once we come in they’re like, 'Do another one!’”
Miami’s Community Development/Code Compliance Manager Travis Jones said building management is key to successful housing developments.
McClain said before the project began there was much discussion with the developer and management about their vision for the project.
“Affordable housing is not a bad thing. It depends on how the housing is managed after the housing goes up,” McClain said. “Part of that is the City’s responsibility in making sure that we hold the new property managers and tenants responsible from a code compliance standpoint in maintaining it the way it should be maintained.”
Eisenhauer said the management offers ongoing informative life skills programs and does regular inspections to ensure the units are up to set standards.
Construction is ongoing, and the upper floors are now accessible by both elevator as well as a new steel construction staircase.
Parking spaces for residents have been designated in the parking lot north of the building. Kruithof said a walkway crossing will be created in the near future for the safety of the residents coming to and from the building.
“We kept all the old original windows and doors and the safe, and we are repurposing them so whenever you walk in the entry, you will see them used there,” Eisenhauer said. “We want to reuse that stuff. It's a part of Miami's history. Because when you see you don't have to tear down the building and start all over. There's beautiful history we can save.”
The overall décor and theme of the downstairs will incorporate that history as well as the Route 66 connection.
“I just love it,” Kruithof said. “ I think that when people see these units and recognize what it was designed for I think it's going to fill up quickly. What I love too are the views of Miami. People haven't been in this building for years, and they've forgotten about how nice this town looks. It's just beautiful.”
The apartments are filled first come, first serve, are income based and lease for up to $450 per month.
“That's the thing, when people see how low the rates are they expect it's going to be lower quality, that's absolutely not the case,” Eisenhauer said. “We just started taking applications.”
Eisenhauer said the company is working with the City of Miami and the Miami Housing Authority to look at other housing development possibilities. Jones said about 75 percent of Miami’s downtown buildings have apartment or living spaces above the downstairs businesses.
Miami also has many older downtown buildings that have been recently remodeled and restored for new uses bringing revitalization to the city’s Main Street area.
Applications can still be made for residency for Route 66 Landing at 918-541-3910.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.