The former All Star Inn in Springfield is being remodeled into 19 units of affordable housing for single adults. After construction is completed, Fifth Street will own and run the buildings. Residents will have to meet income requirements but can receive aid from the Section 8 federal housing program.
The former All Star Inn in Springfield is being remodeled into 19 units of affordable housing for single adults.
“This is going to be permanent housing for individuals who are low-income,” said Penny Harris, executive director of Fifth Street Renaissance, a social service agency that operates more than a dozen programs for extremely low-income people and the homeless, among others.
“Springfield greatly lacks resources in the area of affordable housing, and we are trying to address those needs,” Harris said.
Harris and builder Mike Niehaus said they hope the work will be done in July.
Fifth Street Renaissance will collaborate with the Springfield Housing Authority, which will screen applicants, according to Harris and Jackie L. Newman, the SHA’s executive director.
After construction is completed, Fifth Street will own and run the buildings. Residents will have to meet income requirements but can receive aid from the Section 8 federal housing program.
Harris said that means they would pay 30 percent of their incomes toward rent, and the rest would be paid through a voucher. Newman said the SHA’s staff will help determine the amounts of the subsidies.
Windsor Development Group and Windsor Homes Inc. are serving as developer and contractor of the project. Niehaus, president of both Springfield businesses, said Wednesday the city of Springfield has provided a $180,000 grant to construct a building that will house the manager’s office, a small food pantry, mailboxes for residents and meeting space.
Harris referred to that building as the “service center” for such services as case management, referrals, transportation and “life skills.”
The balance of funding, about $1.2 million, will come from a 20-year loan from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.
Niehaus said the old manager’s office was torn down, but the other three buildings on the site — which had been 20 motel units and will now be 19 single-person apartments — had intact brick exteriors and good foundations.
“They’ve got good bones,” he said of the structures. “We’re taking it down to the studs.”
Each apartment will have a kitchenette and full bath. All but one of the units will be about 300 square feet, which is smaller than a two-car garage, Niehaus said.
“It’s going to certainly improve the look of Cook Street, from being a rundown boarded-up motel to a thriving apartment complex,” Niehaus said.
Janel Owens, 36, who lives nearby, said she had been concerned about the construction, but her fears were eased when she heard about Fifth Street Renaissance’s plans.
“People need housing, and there’s nothing wrong in that,” Owens said. “As long as the property is kept up and there’s not a whole lot of cop activity around there, hey, welcome to the neighborhood.”
Newman said that with the requirements that come with Section 8 properties and with Fifth Street Renaissance directly managing the location, “accountability will be increased.”
If any neighbors are concerned, “I would tell them that the Fifth Street Renaissance does projects that help neighborhoods, not hurt them,” Harris said.
“Our properties are well maintained, and our clients care about the place that they live. We care about the properties. We have staff on site 24 hours a day.”
Inspectors from the city shut down the old All Star in 2001, citing health and building violations.
Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at (217) 788-1540 or email@example.com.