By Jacob Mathias
With overwhelming public support, the Stevens Point Redevelopment Authority on Monday requested borrowing for building improvements to Edgewater Manor.
The building, a city-owned senior living facility, has twice come before city officials with potential for being sold to a private entity in recent years. Past Council Members have argued the city can’t afford to maintain the property, and some continue to question whether the city should be in the real estate business at all.
A list of repairs totaling $4.6 million was presented during a joint meeting of the Common Council and Redevelopment Authority (RDA), with architect David Johnson of Green Bay-based Architects Limited saying that price tag is a total amount for all suggested improvements.
No specific repairs or costs were requested by the Redevelopment Authority.
The presentation by Johnson divided the costs into three categories: life safety items, energy/maintenance and cosmetic.
Life safety items included repairs to the sidewalk and asphalt surfaces as they can currently dangerous hazards to the elderly, replacement of fire hoses, exterior resurfacing of the building and installing a sprinkler system.
Mary McComb, 9th District alderwoman, asked what would be Johnson’s top priority for repairs. Johnson said the building’s exterior surface and the sidewalk would be his choice.
“There’s a number of areas that could be tripping hazards for the tenants with the sidewalk that is deteriorating and curbing that is cracking, asphalt that’s breaking up,” said Johnson.
Energy/maintenance improvements would replace the existing windows which are original to the building, installing water saving plumbing fixtures, new indoor flooring, roof repairs and elevator upgrades.
|Life Safety Items||$1,511,301.00|
Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski said while not everything in this report will need to be completed immediately, the report does provide a realistic representation of the likely potential costs that Edgewater Manor will face in the near term and what it will take to make it competitive in the marketplace.
“I know you’re not looking strictly for what has to be done because of maintenance or things that are failing,” said Johnson. “You’re also competing with the private sector of trying to get tenants into the building so you’re looking at what you can do to improve the appearance of the building…by having things that are tired looking, having things that are outdated and are showing signs of wear and tear, it’s not going to look as desirable compared to somebody out in the private sector.”
Cosmetic repairs include replacing various appliances, new kitchen cabinets, painting hallways with warmer colors and installing showers in place of bathtubs in some units.
After operating Edgewater at a loss and stagnant growth for years, the city tried to sell Edgewater in 2013 but the idea was panned by many citizens and city leaders alike, causing the Common Council to vote against a sale.
At the time of the proposed sale, Edgewater’s occupancy was only at 60 percent. Since awarding management duties to Candlewood Property Management in December of 2014, resident Mary Meyer- who also operated the building’s website- claims occupancy has increased to 87 percent.
“On behalf of all the Edgewater residents, past, present and future, I thank you all for getting in the landlord business and for staying in it,” Meyer said. “You’ve kept Edgewater for seniors and kept it affordable all these years when probably no private owner would have. In our book, that makes you the best landlord we could have.”
John Gardner, a past city planner who currently sits on the Redevelopment Authority, said he worried some of the improvements would be more appropriate for the management company to address. He also questioned by the RDA was involved in the project at all.
“[This is] not a redevelopment project,” Gardner said. “Wouldn’t it make more sense for one entity to be in control of the facility?”
Gardner, along with Mayor Mike Wiza, both cast doubt as to whether or not the city should continue to be in the landlord business.
City leaders will consider additional steps to borrow for the project at a later date.
City Times Staff will continue to follow this story.