Ligonier apartment complex opens

Article by Kelly Lynch of KPC Media

Riverside Villa finishes construction after year of building

LIGONIER — Although housing continues to be an issue throughout Noble County, the newly finished Riverside Villa Apartments complex in Ligonier is hoping to fill a need for western Noble County residents.

This week marks one year and two months since the complex’s groundbreaking, and though two months behind its original schedule due to weather, residents will finally be able to call it home as it’s expected to welcome its first tenants in the coming days.

Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel is happy to see the project in its final stage, especially after hearing such interest and excitement from community members as they’ve seen the structure come together before their eyes.

“I have people stopping me all the time. ‘Who do I call? Do you have a number? Do you have any information? Where can I find out?’” Fisel said. “Everywhere I go, someone is asking.”

Located at the former site of the Wirk Garment Factory at 200 Water St., the $7.8 million project resulted in the construction of 54 units spread over three stories. These units include 24 one-bedroom apartments and 30 two-bedroom apartments, with six laid out for those with accessibility needs.

At the moment, 32 of those units are already reserved pending applications, Herman & Kittle Properties regional property manager John Anderson said.

Those applications take into account the prospective tenant’s income, as the apartments are “income restricted.” This is different from “income-based,” because the rent doesn’t fluctuate based on what a person makes, Anderson explained. The rent has already been established, and an applicant simply can’t make more than a certain dollar amount to qualify, he said.

It was previously detailed that those making between 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income will pay between $230 and $545 for a one-bedroom unit, and between $275 to $645 for a two-bedroom unit.

Those who are interested can see if they qualify through, where each Herman & Kittle development is listed for review and available to check a person’s income against eligibility requirements. The other option is to stop by the complex’s front office with income information.

Fisel said housing of this nature is vital to Ligonier’s future plans for improvement and growth, because there isn’t anything like it in the area.

“It’s like any other community, you need to have a variety of types of living quarters, and so I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Fisel said, pointing to the five mobile home parks and low number of first homes in the community. “The apartment complex is definitely going to fill a need for housing. As we fill that need, we can start concentrating on other needs the community has, like starter homes.”

Anderson said the complex meets a need while also offering more amenities to its residents.

On each floor of the complex, there are two communal spaces that house anything from a media center and fitness room to a craft area and game room. There is also an outdoor community space facing the Elkhart River, where residents can enjoy a gazebo and a fenced-in dog park.

“It provides quality, affordable housing to a community that definitely needs it. There’s a lot of options of things to do here, and we’ll have amenities,” Anderson said. “It’s something brand new. I don’t know the last time something brand new was built here. As far as apartments, there are some not far from here, but I don’t know how old they are. The option to live somewhere where nobody’s lived before doesn’t come along a lot for a lot of people.”

In the beginning stages of the process, even before construction, residents and local officials were wary of seeing such a large structure in what seemed like a small space, especially when it came to parking.

Ligonier Board of Zoning Appeals approved variances for the project in July 2016, including one allowing the structure to be built against city code, which states that for every unit there should be two parking spaces.

The granted variance allowed the complex to create only 56 spaces in total, half of what is usually allowed.

It rubbed some the wrong way, including members of the Ligonier Plan Commission, but Fisel said now that the structure is in place, she doesn’t anticipate any issues, as those residents with two cars will be offset by those who don’t have any. Parking is also available across Cavin Street at Pettit Park and elsewhere.

“I know there are some people that are concerned with the parking. I know there is at least one parking space per apartment,” Fisel said. “I don’t foresee that as being a problem.”

Overall, Anderson is excited to finish the final touches of paint and installation of last minute electronics and tech in the communal areas and see residents move in.

“I believe the community is happy we are here,” Anderson said. “We are happy to be here.”