On Thursday, May 23rd, we had the Ribbon Cutting for Riverside Commons Apartments in Plymouth and LaPaz Commons Apartments in LaPaz. This project resulted from Marshall County Crossroads‘ Stellar Designation.

In LaPaz, Matthew Celmer spoke on behalf of the Crossroads committee. Gary Neidig spoke on behalf of One Marshall County, the new reiteration of Crossroads. Roger Ecker, LaPaz Town Council President, spoke on behalf of the Town of LaPaz. Alan Rakowski, Director of Real Estate Acquisition, for IHCDA spoke as well. It was also nice to see Council member, Ryan Young; Clerk Treasurer, Jenn Gilmer; Former Clerk Treasurer, Lorraine Dove; and some of the town employees there as well. All of them praised the new development and the what it would do for the Town of LaPaz. (Marty Oosterbaan was there as a former Crossroads’ leader. He was also responsible for a lot of help in pulling the Ribbon Cutting together.) Thanks also to Easterday Construction Co., Inc. Project Superintendent, Bob Cooper, and Office Manager, Julie Heise for their help throughout the project and at the Ribbon Cutting. Thank you to Gavin Greer for his coverage in the Pilot News on May 29th.

When we have a project like this, I try and attend all of the local town council meetings. I hit most of them and the council made me a standing agenda item. My time there helped me understand the struggles LaPaz is going through and the good people that are involved in the town’s government, contributing their efforts. This made it all the more significant that LaPaz stepped up to help make this project happen, understanding their tight budget. LaPaz punched above their weight, providing more assistance than we received for Riverside Commons in Plymouth and for The Paddocks in Culver.

The LaPaz Council helped find a suitable site and made initial contacts with the owner. They also obtained an appraisal for the property.

The site required a variance. LaPaz Council President, Roger Ecker, appeared with us before the Marshall County BZA and spoke in favor of the variance request. (That was a late night and much appreciated!)

Troyer Street was not much more than a cow path before this project. The town provided and installed stone where the “street” had become a mud hole. Later, the town was able to grade and stone the remainder of the street in-house and then applied for Community Crossings funds to pave it and provide storm water infrastructure. This didn’t just benefit LaPaz Commons, but since these improvements, there has been steady traffic from the other apartments to the east. This was a great improvement for LaPaz.

LaPaz also waived tap fees for the sewer hook-up. A small thing, but helpful to project costs.

And as a final gesture of support, the LaPaz Council provided a picnic lunch at the Ribbon Cutting. That was a touching gesture!

Alan Rakowski, Director of Real Estate Acquisition, for IHCDA 

LaPaz and Plymouth were the only communities that stepped up to the challenge for this project. We approached Argos, Bremen and Bourbon (Culver was not eligible), but they either did not have a site available or wanted terms that didn’t fit the IHCDA application. It took courage and a lot of effort for LaPaz to do this and they should be commended. As Alan Rakowski from IHCDA stated in his speech, including LaPaz strengthened the overall application and probably made the difference in it being awarded. I also think that including these projects made a difference in Marshall County Crossroads receiving the Stellar designation and all the ancillary that came from that.

LaPaz Commons is an eight unit townhome project. There are 6 townhouse units and two ADA accessible flats. All of the units are ADA visitable. Before we were even done with construction, there were 10 applications for the units and at the Ribbon Cutting, there were four units filled. This is the first new housing in LaPaz since we did the LaPaz Garden Court senior housing in 2010.

LaPaz has suffered with the Highway 31 bypass literally bypassing them. They are working hard to keep their community thriving, using the limited resources which they have. We are happy that we could make a dent in this and provide some much needed housing. Fingers crossed that this helps kickstart some other positive additions for LaPaz!