Old school housing project taking shape
From the outside, the Ochoco School Crossings project doesn't look much different than the elementary school that occupied the space for 70 years.
But don't judge the book by that cover. Although little has changed on the outside of the buildings, plenty of work has happened inside.
"There's not a dramatic visual yet, unless you go inside the building and get a feel for what a unit looks like," said Keith Wooden, real estate director for Housing Works, the regional housing authority that is spearheading the project. "They just started interior paint in one of the (three) wings. They have got drywall and texture and some paint started on the first wing, and they are hanging drywall on the last zone."
Ochoco School Crossing will offer a mix of 29 apartment configurations, including studios, one, two and three bedrooms. The apartment community will provide residents a variety of services and activities through a number of partner agencies. In addition to NeighborImpact and Crook County Parks and Recreation, other service providers include Ochoco Innovation Station, Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon, Saving Grace, Veterans Affairs, and Oregon Department of Human Services.
Housing Works purchased the property about a year ago from the Crook County School District for $600,000. The organization then broke ground on the $8.3 million project on Aug. 15 with Bend-based R&H Construction as the general contractor.
Funding for the development comes from federal tax credits through Oregon Housing and Community Services and HOME funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This past September, NeighborImpact opened two Head Start classrooms in the refurbished detached cafeteria on the campus. After that project was completed, crews moved on to the school building.
Although the bulk of changes have taken place indoors, people passing by the old school will likely notice that contractors are busy tearing out the existing metal roof to replace it with a more residential looking composite alternative. Also, exterior windows have been installed as well as exterior siding that will later get a coat of paint.
"We are already selecting exterior paint colors," Wooden remarked.
Once the roof work is complete and workers no longer need to utilize the asphalt parking lot that surrounds much of the facility, contractors will rip it out to make way for landscaping.
"It's going to look really cool really soon," Wooden said.
Contractors and Housing Works remain on target to complete the renovation by early November. Leading up to that day, in August and early September, the housing authority will announce the opening of the application process. Wooden explained that eligible applicants will have roughly two-months during which to apply. All occupants will be chosen through a lottery system.
"Things are going well," Wooden concluded. "We are really excited."