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The City of Harmony is well on their way to building a 34 unit senior living facility along Highway 52, two blocks north of the downtown where the “old motel” is located. With construction scheduled to begin in July, city officials are optimistic that the residence will have its first occupants sometime in early 2002.
“This housing is need driven,” says Harmony Council member Sherry Hines. “This is a direct outcome of a housing survey the city completed a year ago.”
From the study, city officials were able to learn about some of the housing problems in Harmony, especially as it related to older seniors who were moving away from Harmony in order to meet their special residential needs.
“In many cases, our older citizens were moving away to live in residential facilities near their children in other cities,” Hines said. “In the end, we really want these people to be able to stay in their own community.”
After the community housing survey was completed, the city created an ad hoc committee that looked at demographics, needs and site location.
“The work of this committee is the reason the city was able to move so fast on this project,” Hines noted, saying that the committee met weekly to keep the project moving ahead.
Owned by the Harmony Economic Development Authority, the facility will be financed by selling $3,000,000 in special housing General Obligation Bonds. The bonds went on the market the last week of May, with 80% of the bonds selling on the first day.
“We wanted this to be built without any cost to the taxpayers,” Harmony City Administrator, Joel Dhein explained. “The life of the bonds is for 25 years.”
In addition to the bonds, the city has received nearly $129,000 from the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development to acquire the property, develop the 3.5 acre site, and relocate existing renters in eight apartments at the “old motel” site to new housing. The city was required to match the state grant.
Mark Thein, Business Development Coordinator with the Southeastern Minnesota Development Corporation (SMDC) assigned to Harmony, has been working on relocating present renters.
“We have arranged for housing for most residents at this time,” Thein said. “Six units still need to be relocated, but plans have been made for all but two of them.”
Thein went on to say that all those who are relocated because of the project will receive a housing allowance, and, in some cases, those who qualify could receive rental assistance for up to 3 1/2 years.
Modeled on the new assisted living facility in LeRoy, the Harmony enterprise will use the same developers, Prairie Grass Communities LLC of Plymouth, MN, to construct the facility. Prairie Grass will then be hired to manage the assisted living facility and run it on a day to day basis.
The facility will have 12 Independent apartments, 16 Assisted Living units and six Memory Care rooms for residents with Alzheimer’s disease. Monthly rentals will range from approximately $700-$800 for Independent housing to $1700-$1900 for Assisted Living residents. Monthly rent will be between $2500-$2600 for those residing in the Memory Care units. A range of service options will be available to all residents.
The facility will have a community room, computer room and beauty salon, as well as other joint facilities. Most units will be one and two-bedroom rentals, with garage facilities available for those residents with vehicles.
Hines believes the location is perfect, “They will be within two blocks walking distance from downtown if they want to walk to the bank, the grocery store, or wherever.”
Dhein believes that the Assisted Living Facility will have a positive impact on the community.
“This facility will have an immediate impact on housing in our community, it will create 12 jobs, and, it will help meet the needs of our older citizens,” Dhein said. “And, at the end of the day, after debt service and other costs are paid, it should return a small profit back to our community.”