Construction began last week on the 50-year-old High Rise Apartments building in downtown Great Bend, starting a 15-month long renovation to bring the entire 12-story building up to date.
After Great Bend Housing Authority broke ground on the historical building back in April, general contractor Hutton Construction started work in late May on the initial preparations. The first part of the time included putting up an outdoor elevator on the east side of the building for materials to be hoisted to the appropriate floor of the building where construction is underway.
“The original construction broke ground in 1971, so it isn’t by accident that we’re breaking ground on the revitalization of this landmark building 50 years later,” says Lynn Fleming, executive director for Great Bend Housing Authority. “We’re converting most of the studio apartments to one-bedroom apartments by combining two units into one, and also renovating all the existing units with new fixtures, cabinetry, flooring, countertops, and more.”
Hutton Corporation says that their plan for the $16 million project is to renovate one floor at a time, starting with the very top floor of the building.
“We are aiming to complete the entire project by August of 2022,” said Andy Fahrmeier, Hutton’s area office leader. “We’ll keep working diligently to finish each floor efficiently, utilizing several different subcontractors where necessary, and with local superintendents on the ground overseeing the progress.”
All the tenants still living in the building have been relocated to the bottom few floors so that construction noise is isolated away from the people residing at the High Rise. Once construction is completed in the top five floors, current tenants will then be moved to the newly renovated unit on the top floors.
“Our current tenants will have first dibs on the brand new units,” Fleming said. “And, we’ll allow time between the phases of construction to allow them time to move higher up in the building before more construction gets underway in the lower floors.” Once the remodel is complete, Fleming said they will have 81 brand new housing units and can “continue to serve the community for years to come.”
Besides the massive facelift happening in all 12 floors of the building, including the lobby, offices, and common spaces, the High Rise will also be undergoing an operational change as well. While GBHA has always served low-income individuals, the High Rise Apartments are now going to focus more on the 55 and older population.
“We are prioritizing individuals 55 years of age or older, but up to 20% of our units can be rented to individuals under that threshold,” Fleming said.
The High Rise Apartments are non-smoking, pet friendly, and within walking distance from numerous restaurants, retail stores, and entertainment venues. In addition to operating the High Rise Apartments, Great Bend Housing Authority also operates a Section 8 voucher program for people that want to live elsewhere in the City of Great Bend.
For anyone wanting to learn more about the High Rise Apartments, the Section 8 voucher program, or the qualifications for each program, more information can be found on the organization’s website at www.gbhaks.com.