By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Sixteen individuals will soon have an affordable place to call home thanks to a partnership between LaCasa Inc., Oaklawn Inc., Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), NeighborWorks America and DJ Construction.
LaCasa, a community housing development corporation, and DJ Construction Company are joining local efforts to build a 10,785 square foot apartment complex along Westplains Drive on Goshen’s west side.
According to Alan Greaser, vice president of Real Estate Development for LaCasa, the new facility will provide safe, efficient and affordable apartments for 16 low income individuals.
“Right now the affordable apartments that we have are above 95 percent occupied,” said Greaser of the reason behind the decision to construct the new complex. “There continues to be a need for affordable housing in Goshen.”
Upon completion, housing will include 12 one-bedroom units and four efficiency units. The building will also offer a community room and laundry facilities for the tenants. Occupants will also have access to support services as a resource for successful tenancy.
As for why the Westplains Drive location was chosen, Greaser pointed to the already existing multifamily housing in the area and close proximity to public transportation and city amenities as being conducive to the development of a low income apartment complex.
“It’s consistent with the development in the area, and it also has close and easy access to public transportation, grocery stores, etc.,” Greaser said. “Everything is close, so it’s a good location in the city for low income people who may or may not have reliable transportation.”
In discussing the planned construction of the new complex, Adam Tohulka of DJ Construction noted that many green components are being used in the construction process, including energy star appliances, energy efficient windows, extra insulation, geothermal mechancials, landscaping that requires little irrigation and efforts to recycle construction waste.
DJ Construction endeavors to garner “National Green Building Standard” certification through the National Association of Home Builders, according to Tohulka. Certification requires notable performance in the areas of site design, resource efficiency, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and building operation and maintenance.
In speaking about these green initiatives, Greaser said, “By building energy efficient units that will minimize operating costs, LaCasa will give these individuals a fresh start toward long term stability.”
While green building does typically cost a little more up front than traditional building, Greaser was quick to assure that none of that extra cost will translate into higher rental fees for tenants. In fact, he said it could actually end up saving them money in the long run.
Along those lines, Greaser pointed to the fact that LaCasa recently secured a green-specific grant for the complex from one of its partners, NeighborWorks America, where receipt of the grant was contingent upon the use of green materials.
“By having that kind of funding up front, it lowers our utility bills and operating costs, so it really makes sense to do it that way,” Greaser said. “While it’s true that building green tends to be a little more expensive at the front end, over the life of the building it’s much cheaper, and the reality is that green technology is becoming much more standard. It’s not as unusual as it was five years ago, so the cost of green continues to come down.”
Doug Wogoman, president of DJ Construction, confirmed that the Westplains project is the fourth project on which LaCasa and DJ have partnered.
“LaCasa obviously is about strengthening our communities, and we want to be part of that effort,” Wogoman said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to help our friends and partners at LaCasa serve families, create homes, and take care of the environment in the process.”
Greaser also spoke to the construction partnership when he said, “DJ Construction has been an excellent partner on previous LaCasa projects and understands our mission and our construction priorities.”
Greaser noted that work on the new apartment complex is already underway, adding that LaCasa hopes to be moving people in by as early as mid-December of this year.