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Examiner
  • Mount Washington reborn

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  • Attention, senior citizens: A 111-year-old school building has been renovated into a new independent senior living facility in western Independence.
    The newly remodeled facility is like a “high-end hotel,” says one tenant.
    Mount Washington Senior Apartments, at 507 S. Evanston Avenue in Independence, opened its doors for qualifying seniors ages 55 and older a couple weeks ago. The former Mount Washington School has been converted into 45 one- or two-bedroom apartments that average 700 square feet.
    “The people here treat me with dignity and are extremely helpful,” said Joyce Jeffrey, one of the first tenants who moved into the redeveloped building.
    The apartment complex is a low-income housing tax credit property as part of the federal Affordable Housing Program, said Mount Washington property manager Vanessa Gahagan. In order for seniors to become residents, they must make no more than $30,840 in income annually or $35,220 between two people. All apartments come furnished with a 40-inch Smart TV and kitchen appliances, such as a microwave, dishwasher and refrigerator. Utilities, such as water and trash, are covered under the lease, but a resident is responsible for electricity, said Jeffrey.
    The property is owned by Sherwood Associates, a Minnesota-based developer, and features several amenities, such as an auditorium that has over a 100-foot projection screen for movies or presentations, fitness room, plus a walking trail and community garden hoped to be completed by summer.
    “The building’s owner, George Sherwood, specializes in old building renovations,” said Gahagan. “To make it into a senior living facility was right for this particular building in the community.”
    Christina Leakey, with the Independence Community Development Department, said the Mount Washington School building was originally part of the Independence School District’s late 2007 annexation of seven properties from the Kansas City School District. The Independence district declared it as surplus property in 2008.
    “The Independence School District determined it obsolete,” said Leakey, “primarily because of accessibility issues.”
    She said a partnership was formed between the district and city to find a viable reuse for the fairly sizable property.
    “Everyone understood the need to revitalize (the property). There was a need for senior apartment living.”
    The city eventually chose Sherwood Associates to convert the building into a senior apartment complex. The project had an overall investment of $10.6 million that included financial assistance from the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization and HOME Programs, as well as state and federal Historic and Low-Income Housing tax credits. Elevator systems and ramps, located at each of the building’s entrances, have been installed to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
    Currently seven tenants live at Mount Washington Apartments and 14 more signed leases this past weekend, according to Gahagan.
    Page 2 of 2 - And once Mount Washington reaches 60 percent of its maximum occupancy, NorthWest Communities Development Corporation will provide support services, such as transportation for grocery store visits, adult education, health screenings and fitness programs at the complex, said Howard Penrod, executive director of NWCDC.
    “We will also provide residents opportunities to go on outings, like Royals games or casino visits,” he said.
    Leakey also says there is a "large demand for senior living" in Independence, and similar projects are currently in development.
    "I referred three of my friends to move here as well," said Jeffrey.
    For more information about Mount Washington Senior Apartments, contact Sherwood Associates at 612-332-3000.

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