Soon residents of the Southeast Como neighborhood no longer will look out their windows to see an abandoned building covered in spray paint.
The Bunge grain elevator on 13th Avenue S.E. has been sold to two organizations: the Cabrini Partnership and Project for Pride in Living. The organizations plan to construct homes for low-income families.
Construction on new homes and apartments should start in September or October with the hopes of being completed by the end of the year, said Chris Wilson, the director of the real estate development for Project for Pride in Living.
He said some of the units will be for rent while others will be for sale.
But the units aren’t meant for college students, Wilson said. The Project for Pride in Living units will be built through funding that prohibits full-time students.
The rentals are for families who make less than half the median income, he said. There will be two- and three-bedroom units designed for families or recent graduates with little income.
The units can be used by University workers.
“Half the people that work at the University are in that income bracket (less than 50 percent the median income),” Wilson said.
The Cabrini Partnership is a nonprofit organization that provides housing for the mentally ill, chemically dependent and homeless.
The Cabrini Partnership will own one-bedroom units for permanent residents, said Mary Morris, executive director of the organization.
Morris said the University is a great location because people don’t need cars to get around and there’s something about being in an educational environment that gets people motivated. The people who chose Cabrini also are starting their lives over, she said.
“It’s as if they’re 19 because they’re starting over,” she said.
Wilson said there also will be a row of housing, with five units for Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for families in need. The organization will identify those families and build the homes for them, Wilson said.
There also will be units for sale, Wilson said. These will be about $175,000 and up, he said.
James De Sota, neighborhood coordinator for the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said the neighbors have mixed feelings about the new plans.
Some are really excited about the new development bringing in more families, he said. Others are concerned about a possibility of increased crime, De Sota said.
Lee Hibbard, a resident of the neighborhood and president of the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said she supports the idea and is looking forward to having more kids in the neighborhoods.
She said she thinks it will bring more children into the public schools, such as nearby Tuttle Elementary School. She also said it will get more people to use Van Cleve Park.
Hibbard said she likes the idea of having mixed-income families and transitional residents too.
“I think it’s exciting,” she said.