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HIGH RISE: Housing Authority shows remodeled apartments
Lynn Flemming, director of the Great Bend Housing Authority, stands in one of the rooms on the 11th floor of the newly remodeled High Rise. An open house was held Friday before residents moving to the new units on the upper floors received their keys. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

It’s taken longer than expected, but the first phase of a multi-million dollar renovation of the High Rise apartments at 1101 Kansas Ave. is done. The top six floors have been completely remodeled and Great Bend Housing Authority is now accepting applications for renters. To celebrate, Executive Director Lynn Flemming and others hosted an open house on Friday, showing off the larger apartments.

“We’ve been waiting for months,” Flemming said. “I’m really thrilled about how it turned out. Hutton Construction did nothing but professional, awesome work. And when you come up the elevator to these upper floors, it’s like you’re going into a new world. We’re just thrilled.”

Now that the first phase is done, people can start moving into the apartments on the upper floors. 

“I’ve got 18 people on floors one through four that have weathered the storm getting through the process and they’ve been very patient and are excited. Some of them are getting their keys this afternoon,” Flemming said.

The Housing Authority closed its waiting list a couple of years ago in anticipation of the remodeling, project, Flemming said. “And then we had trouble getting funding.” Getting the 50-year-old building listed on the National Register of Historic Places toward the end of 2019 finally helped the Housing Authority secure another $5 million in funding to get the project moving again. “It took five years to get all the funding in place. So during that time, I didn’t move anybody in.”

That is how the number of occupied apartments dropped to 18. Those who stayed had to deal with an ongoing construction project outside and upstairs, with all the usual inconveniences – such as having the water shut off for brief periods of time.

“But it’s so much nicer,” a woman touring a remodeled apartment commented Friday.

Phase two of the renovation involves floors one through five. Flemming said she’s been told that work should be done by late summer or early fall.

The High Rise was created to provide affordable housing to people with lower incomes and still serves that purpose, Flemming said. Rent is based on 30% of an occupant’s income and the maximum income for a single occupant is approximately $28,000 a year.

“In the High Rise we pay all the utilities except cable, phone and internet, so we are the most economical place in town to live if you’re low income,” she said. The Housing Authority has a target for people 55 years of age and older to make up 80% of its occupants, but 20% can be under that age limit.

The new appliances, paint, cabinets and carpeting aren’t the only changes in the apartments. Originally there were 97 apartments located on 11 floors. The 12th floor is a common area and the first-floor office will also move there during phase two. Businesses have also rented office space there in the past, Flemming said.

Now, the number of apartments has been reduced from 97 to 81.

“We’ve consolidated a lot,” Flemming explained. “We had a lot of studio apartments that were very hard to rent. Most of these are now larger one-bedroom apartments. That’s perfect for a senior couple or single person.” There are a few two-bedroom apartments as well.

Flemming said she has started a waiting list for future renters.

“I’ve got 10 people that are going to be moving in in the next couple of weeks and I’ve got another 40 apartments to fill.”

Louise Pierce, age 85, was one person attending Friday’s open house who said she plans to apply for one of the downstairs apartments.

“They are beautiful here. I would love it,” she said. She has been renting a three-bedroom house where she lived with her son until he passed away in December. Now, she is ready to downsize and save money on rent.

“And I play BINGO, and it’s right across the street,” Pierce said. “I would love that. My friends are looking forward to me moving in here. They said they might look into that too.”

Anyone who is interested can come to the  High Rise office for an application. “We also accept applications on our website,” Flemming said. It’s, or you can Google Great Bend Housing Authority to find our website to apply.”