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Great Bend Housing Authority holds ground-breaking ceremony at High Rise
Lynn Fleming, GHBA executive director; Diana Roberts, GHBA board chair; Megan Barfield, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce president; Kendal Francis, Great Bend city administrator; and Andy Fahrmeier, Hutton Construction area office leader, take part in the ground-breaking ceremony kicking off the Great Bend High Rise renovation project on Monday.

Representatives from the Great Bend Housing Authority (GBHA), the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and the City of Great Bend were on hand for a ground-breaking ceremony Monday morning to promote renovation at the historical High Rise at 1101 Kansas Ave. 

The multi-grant-funded renovation project is scheduled to commence within the week and includes remodeling all 97 of the units, including the current 50 studio apartments, into 81 studio and one-bedroom apartments. There will be fewer of the 500-square-foot studios, which are less popular than apartments with a bedroom.

GBHA Executive Director Lynn Fleming said each apartment will have its kitchen and bathroom completely gutted. Cabinets and fixtures will also be replaced.

“We’ve been granted $16 million to renovate this historic piece of our downtown area,” Fleming said. “Because of a lack of funds, much of this building has been neglected over the years, so we’re just super excited to finally get this project underway – not just for our tenants but for our community. It’s been a long time coming.”

Fleming said very little work as been done to the building in its nearly 50-year existence. Some of the wear and tear include worn off porcelain from sinks and worn out particle board. 

The entire project is scheduled to take 13 months. Hutton Construction out of Wichita will perform the renovation work. The facility will be operating at reduced capacity with tenants living in other units away from construction areas. 

“We finally got approval from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to start on this project,” said Fleming. “As part of the funding, we were able to receive lower income housing tax fund credits along with a housing trust fund grant of $500,000.” Fleming added that other funds came through the Federal Home Loan Bank Fund grant in the amount of $1 million and a combination of federal and historic state tax credits in the amount of $5 million. 

Opening in 1972, the High Rise is a project- and income-based Section 8 apartment building. According to information provided on the GBHA website, applicants must meet income guidelines and pass a background check before being determined to be eligible for the program. Once approved to live in the High Rise, the rent is approximately 30% of the household income and electric, water and trash utilities are included at no additional cost. Residents pay for cable, phone and internet.

The facility is locked evenings, weekends and holidays with on-site security personnel to ensure safety for the residents. The apartments are unfurnished, but with stove and refrigerator provided. Coin operated laundry is available on the premises.

Income guidelines include:

• 1 Person Household: $23,150 Income Limit

• 2 Person Household: $26,450 Income Limit

• 3 Person Household: $29,750 Income Limit

• 4 Person Household: $33,050 Income Limit

The majority of units are reserved for individuals aged 55 and older but up to 20% of the units can be occupied by younger tenants.