Route 66 Landing offers main level commons areas, and four floors of 24 modern, one and two bedroom apartments for seniors over the age of 55 with specific tenant income guidelines.

MIAMI – Ruth Stephens' fifth-floor apartment in Wilhoit Properties’ new Route 66 Landing on Miami's Main Street is a reflection of a life lived to the fullest. The 79-year-old's character and interesting life story are on display throughout her richly and beautifully self-decorated top floor apartment.

Ruth with her dogs, Casper and Caesar, were the first tenants to move into the newly renovated building on Dec. 10, 2017. Located at 36 North Main the building once served as the historic Mining and Exchange Building, and was later used for offices for dentists and other professionals. The building served as a church building for Harvest Time Ministries for a time prior to the purchase and renovation by the developers.

Route 66 Landing now offers main level commons areas, and four floors of 24 modern, one and two bedroom apartments for seniors over the age of 55 with specific tenant income guidelines.

“Everything here is just wonderful,” Ruth said.

The brand new downtown senior living community opens from 1st Avenue into an inviting lobby space with keyed entry to the building and limited access to tenant spaces for added safety for residents.

“Our developer did try to keep the integrity of the original space. We have original marble and flooring, we're super proud of that,” Wilhoit’s Regional Property Management Specialist Carri Wells Eisenhauer said. “Over half of the units are occupied now and more are available.”

The developer stayed with a mid-century design décor throughout the commons areas of the building, which includes a separate ladies lounge with a craft table, men's lounge area with pool table, and a large bright community area space with seating and a fully equipped kitchen area.

An original large antique metal safe used during the building's mining days now serves as a great accent piece blended in with the new stylish design. A music room holds a splendid grand piano and a popcorn maker, and the library/media room extends computer access for tenants for added use and enjoyable amenities.

A full in-house gymnasium offers shuffleboard, wellness clinics, Bingo, line dancing classes, a basketball court, and indoor exercise room and walking space.

The building is fully accessible for those with disability needs and even provides a storm shelter for safety.

“We have apartments left here, and would love to have those interested come and visit us to see what Route 66 Landing offers,” Wells Eisenhauer said.

A building manager and maintenance staff will be available to residents and all amenities are open to tenants 24 hours a day. An elevator takes tenants and visitors up to the highly attractive apartments renovated to create warm homey spaces, many with unbelievable views of the City of Miami.

Each apartment has been finished with laminate flooring, neutral paint and paneled doors, large bathrooms, washer and dryers, one or two bedrooms with spacious closets, ceiling fans, and open living areas with fully appliance equipped kitchens with modern cabinetry, countertops, and lighting.

The apartments are available for one-year leases for $450 per month, which includes water trash and sewer costs to seniors. The complex is pet-friendly with pet stations around the building, and the development offers nearby designated parking spaces for tenants.

“Because we’re not Section 8 people are not sure if they qualify here. We encourage them to call in to check,” Wells Eisenhauer said.

Wilhoit Properties’ is well established and has cultivated and developed many projects creating affordable housing here in Miami and in many other communities.

“We do both private development as well as corporate management for private developers. We have over 300 communities in 15 states,” Wells Eisenhauer said. “We have four new projects through Wilhoit Development and third-party developments just in Oklahoma this year.”

“Our seniors work their whole life and then they live on social security, they can’t afford large housing costs or maintain a whole house or property, but here they take care of all of that for you, but they’re still independent,” Wells Eisenhauer said.

Room with a view

On a clear sunny day, Ruth Stephens' spectacular expansive living area and tall almost floor to ceiling window view extends as far north up Miami's Main Street and across the city as the eye can see.

The mother of four children now living in four different states, including Miami physician Dr. Brad Stephens, Ruth moved to Miami from Arizona last December.

Ruth first moved from Colorado Springs to Miami after a divorce, but then moved back to her beloved home state of Ohio to care for her parents, then to Edmund, Oklahoma and then Arizona to live with her daughter. Ruth has had several very successful professional careers in marketing and economic development, interior design, and sales with Mathis Brothers and Drexel Heritage, and Stow’s Office Furniture.

“It has been a wonderful life when I look back, but only because the Lord Jesus Christ has been by my side through it all,” Ruth said. “Brad and Sherry said, ‘Why don’t you move here?’ and they found these apartments, and they chose this one. They sent me pictures and I said, ‘That’s fine, that’s wonderful!’ I love it.”

A faster than expected sale of her Arizona home pushed her planned move forward quickly. With minor construction delays the entire Route 66 Landing wasn’t totally complete, but management agreed to let Ruth move to her completed apartment despite the minor finishing construction.

“They said, you’ll be all alone, no one will be in there with you, and I said that would be just fine. I had a key to the front door and I’d take the dogs down first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and one night I got caught in the elevator,” she said.

Ruth remained calm, called police and she and her dogs were rescued after about 30 minutes.

“My phone connected with Edmund 911 because of my old number, and they said, ‘Where are you?’ and I said, ‘I’m in an elevator in Miami,’” Ruth said laughing. “They got in touch with the fire and police here…they were wonderful and so sweet and nice.”

After the initial glitches common to most new construction and setting up a new household were ironed out, Ruth has been settling into her new apartment and exploring her new hometown.

“I was glad to get back to Oklahoma because I really like the Oklahoma people. They’re actually a little more friendly.” Ruth said. “I had no idea about the Miami history.”

Her hometown of Van Wert, Ohio was located along one of the earliest trans-continental highways, the Lincoln Highway. So it seems fitting Ruth now lives on old Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, which was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System, and the inspiration and namesake of the apartment building.

Getting some of Ruth's beautiful heirloom antique pieces, such as a huge theater bench from the late 1800s, to the top floor took some doing using the stairways, but the challenge was worth the effort as she is now surrounded by her rich history and beloved memories.

Ruth's professional background in decorating is obvious, as she has used her talent to blend these pieces into her lovely home.

“A lot of this has been with me for a long, long time,” Ruth said.

Ruth is a huge Ohio Buckeyes fan and loves Christmas. Her apartment even provides space for her ample Christmas decoration collection and office space in a large guest bedroom.

“I took photos during the Christmas season of the lights and crowds going in and out of the Coleman," she said. “ It was a beautiful sight.”

Her dogs have settled in as well, Ruth said, “ I really couldn’t have made this move without them.”

As others have moved into the other apartments, Ruth is becoming acquainted with fellow tenants, and she looks forward to meeting more.

The affordability of the units at Route 66 Landing was attractive and important as well to Ruth in her decision to move there.

“The rent is really reasonable. For the first time in my life, I’m living on Social Security,” she said.

Sitting in her living room looking out over Miami, Ruth said, “It felt like home right away. I feel it’s just been a wonderful life…”

For a tour of the building and available units or for more information there is a Facebook page and anyone interested may contact Route 66 Landing at 918-541-3910.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.