"Surprised" and "excited." Those were the reactions last November when plans were first unveiled to turn the former Macy's building, vacant since March 2010, into affordable housing. However not much has been heard about the project since.
But Citydesk has learned that a team of architects and designers from Northwest Real Estate Capital Corporation, a nonprofit that specializes in affordable-housing management, is putting final touches on blueprints, in preparation for putting the project out to bid. Then, planners said, they'll be able to get a clearer picture of how much the major construction project might cost.
In fact, at least one person familiar with the project, Dave Wali, a broker with Colliers International, said he's pretty confident that the redevelopment will become reality sooner than later.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say it's in the nines," said Wali. "But I'm an optimistic guy."
Wali tried to market the vacant structure at 10th and Idaho streets for the better part of two years before NWRECC came forward with a plan to turn the 118,000-square-foot building into 60 rental units, ranging in size from 518 to 1,000 square feet.
"It's a fairly complex project," said Wali. "We're talking about converting an old building into more than 60 individual units, each with its own heating, cooling and soundproofing needs."
Each apartment's suggested rent would be approximately $1.04 per square foot per month, targeting people with an average income of $20,000-$27,000. A confidential agreement was signed between Macy's, which still owns the building, and NWRECC, allowing the nonprofit to craft a construction budget before making an offer to buy the building.
"There's not a city in America that wouldn't want a project like this," said Wali. "This isn't government-subsidized housing. It's a project that targets a demographic that has expressed a strong desire for affordable inner-city living."