Downtown Niles apartment renovations begin

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A building on Main Street in Niles is currently undergoing a major interior transformation.
When completed, the second floor of the Van Riper building at 311/313 E. Main Street in downtown Niles will contain five apartments.
Local businesswoman Marie Majerek is the apartment project's main contractor.
The project is the first downtown apartment project to be partially funded by a $250,000 Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant awarded to the City of Niles to increase the residential density in the downtown area.
Majerek received $125,000 for her project, given at a rate of $25,000 per apartment.
He said the apartments, which are around 700 square feet each, will have multiple outside windows that ensure good ventilation and lighting.
Michiana-based NSJ Construction did all the demolition work and will also do the rebuilding of the apartments.
Batton said all the interior spaces will be completely refurbished, so when residents move in around early to mid-September, they will enter a brand new environment.
Three of the apartments are regulated by the state housing authority and must be made available to low- to moderate-income families, but the remaining two can be rented out to market value, Batton said.
The state housing authority defines an annual income of $33,000, or less, as low to moderate.
Which means the apartments won't necessarily cater for large families, but perhaps more to single parents, couples or a couple with one child, Batton said.
He said there are some really unique things about the apartment project, such as a combination coin laundry and residential storage space.
In addition, the residents will have access to a workout center that includes a rowing machine, a multi-station weight center and several other exercise machines.
Batton said the Majereks used the room as their own personal workout center in the past.
Although the project is the first apartment project to come under way in downtown Niles, Batton said two projects are currently under review.
Batton said one of those projects will undergo a final disposition by the end of next week.
He said more information about the third project will be available when bids start coming in.
Batton, however, said the city will apply for another housing related grant in September.
Batton said a projected inventory indicated there is a potential for 36 apartments on Main Street.
He said that doesn't include the downtown side streets.
Although the people currently planning to, or who are already involved in apartment projects, receive grant money, people can also renovate without seeking the money.
Maximum support per apartment is $25,000.

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