The New Holland apartment building in Danville, Illinois is a model example of how an innovative developer with assistance from local, state and federal grants was able to preserve an historic building and turn it into affordable housing. Pam G. Dempsey reports.
The city of Danville in east central Illinois is known for its modest cost of living. Its affordable housing prices have attracted investors and new residents looking for lower rents over the past decade.
Still, people with low incomes struggle to find safe, clean and decent places to live that cost no more than 30 percent of their income.
77-year-old Barbara Donaldson made her home six years ago at the New Holland apartments, a five-story renovated building in downtown Danville.
Barbara Donaldson, resident, New Holland Apartments, Danville
“I said I love this majestic building and I thought in my heart, this is where I want to live. I didn’t try anywhere else. But I was accepted here and have been living here ever since.”
Donaldson qualified for federally-subsidized rent that helped her afford a one-bedroom apartment.
She is one of hundreds of people across Central Illinois who is need of affordable housing.
The New Holland Apartments is one of the area’s newest solutions.
“Have access to anything I need. Food. Maybe the grocery store’s a little ways away. The post office is right across the street. Well, a couple of blocks down I guess. The library is right across the street. The access is real neat. If I need to, i can walk where I need to go.”
Thom Pollock, executive director of Crosspoint Human Services and president of New Holland Corporation
“New Holland is a historic landmark in Danville and it has been in this community for over 100 years. Twenty years ago, it was falling on hard times and the owners at that time basically abandoned it and it was put up for auction as part of a foreclosure proceeding.”
To save the building, Pollock bid on the property and collected state, local and federal grants and tax credits to turn it into a private, affordable housing project. It took six years and $7.5 million.
The end result is nearly 50 renovated apartments and numerous awards for its energy efficient designs such as its geothermal system and historic preservation.
“Well affordable housing in Danville is one of two varieties. One is derelict structures that have fallen in disrepair. They are still serviceable for people and therefore from that standpoint affordable. But the problem is quality. It is lacking entirely not only in the infrastructure of the house but just the amenities that go along with it. Affordable housing should be quality housing. Safe housing. Something that you and I would like to live in. And in this case, that’s what we aim to do at the Holland and I think we have achieved that. “
“My options would probably be that I would be with one of my children because I have children that say, “we will always take care of you, mother, as you took care of us.” That probably would be about it. Because at this point, at my age and so forth, I’m not able to really make a lot of money ... That’s why it’s a good thing for me to be able to afford this place right here. And I’m very thankful. Very thankful.”
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