After failing its inspection in 2019, McLean Manor, an affordable-housing high rise owned by the City of Wichita, has been gutted and totally refurbished. Tenants will begin moving in soon. Photo credit: Joe Stumpe

It’s been five years in the making, but finally, residents are moving into newly renovated apartments in some of the city’s 226 multi-family public housing units.

Final-finish work is being done on the apartments in McLean Manor, near 9th and McLean Blvd., where work began more than a year ago and applications for rental leases are open for not only the units that are complete but for the ones that will be by early 2023.

Work is just beginning at Greenway Manor’s apartments at 315 Riverview, just west of downtown, after the building’s roof was replaced during the summer of 2022.

Work is complete on 18 of 30 duplex units at Rosa Gragg Senior Apartments on West 25th Street North and work is beginning this month on the triplexes in the Bernice Hutcherson Senior development at 20th and Wellington Place.

The renovations were made possible by the city’s decision in 2017 to join other metropolitan areas across the country in leaving the federal public housing program and converting units to a new Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD), which allowed them to obtain the funds needed to renovate the properties.

Wichita’s public housing high rises, McLean Manor and Greenway Manor, were both built in the 1970s, a time when there was a wave of similar projects being built across the country. 

Federal rules prohibited a municipality from borrowing money against the value of a property to make repairs. 

At the same time, the federal government did not allocate an adequate amount of money to keep up with needed repairs and upgrades. The result was deferred maintenance that grew and grew into more and more costly repairs.

Think of it as not being allowed to take out a mortgage or a second mortgage to pay the bill if the foundation of your house is cracked.

Gut and Start Over (photo provided by Active Aging)

Photo provided by Active Aging

“At McLean and Greenway, we are talking about having to gut the building and start over,” said Adam Kuchy, assistant project manager with Roanoke Construction, the major contractor on the renovation project. “We needed to do some reconfiguration of floor plans, put in all new electrical, plumbing and heating and air systems, all new lighting, drywall and flooring, all new elevator systems.” 

Demolition of the interior of all eight floors of McLean Manor started in November 2021. By late October, the reconstruction was nearing completion.

Starting on the eighth floor, new sheetrock, lighting, flooring, kitchen cabinets and appliances, bathroom fixtures are being installed. Plumbing and electrical work for common areas and laundry rooms on each floor are done and painting, flooring, cabinet work and other details are being installed.

The city formed a public-private partnership with KBK Enterprises to renovate the city’s public housing stock. KBK, a minority-owned business based in Columbus, OH, that specializes in RAD projects, is developer of the project. They are charged with delivering the substantial rehabilitation of the units and coordinating general and subcontractors.  

Funding for the expected $36 redevelopment project comes from a commercial FHA insured loan of $10,900,000, state and federal grants and tax credit equity. The change moves the projects from Federal Housing and Urban Development  public housing to Section 8 rentals with the city as the landlord.

In addition, management of the facilities is shifting from the city to Mennonite Housing, which is currently managing rental applications and wait lists for the properties.

Moving Back In

For the residents of the apartments, besides working with an outside management company, the impact of the restructuring of the projects to Section 8 won’t be noticeable.  

Mennonite Housing will have management offices in the building and residents can report any problems to them.

Most importantly, tenants’ rent will still be capped at 30% of their adjusted gross income.

Residents who lived in McLean before the renovation will automatically be allowed to move back. McLean Manor has been vacant since 2021, when residents were relocated so demolition and renovation could begin. Many of the apartments were vacant before then because of maintenance issues.

The McLean building offers 85 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. All units are dedicated senior housing with top priority going to low income people over 62. Some units are fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each floor of the building has a dedicated laundry room, while some of the two-bedroom units have in-unit washers and dryers.

Greenway is Next

Work on the other highrise, Greenway Manor, will begin the first quarter of 2023, according to  Kuchy, with planned occupancy beginning in early 2024. 

The roof has been replaced but interior work there won’t start until current residents have been relocated. That is expected to be mid to late March.

Displaced Greenway residents will be offered the opportunity to move to renovated units in McLean. When Greenway is completed they will have a choice of moving back or staying at  McLean. Tenant relocation expenses associated with all of the renovation projects are paid by the city.

Work is just starting on Bernice Hutcherson, another low-income, city-owned, senior project.  . Roanoke Construction, under the management and direction of  project developer JBK Enterprises, will complete the construction work on all the projects.

A Challenge Ahead

As approvals came through to move the city’s multi-family housing into the RAD program, the Wichita Housing Authority received challenging news. 

The city’s 348 single-family, affordable rental units scattered across the city did not qualify for the RAD program. Another path had to be found to address the rehabilitation needed in these units. 

A deeper look at the issues of those properties will be examined in the third segment of The Voice’s Public Housing series.

(In the Dec. 2 issue: A look at the Rosa Gragg and Bernice Hutcherson duplexes and triplexes, the renovations there, and their future.)

How to get on the waitlist for renovated housing apartments

Mennonite Housing is the new property manager for the City of Wichita public housing projects:  McLean Manor, Greenway Manor and the senior projects Rosa Graggs and Berniece Hutcherson.  

Applications for the rental waitlist for the senior projects: duplexes on 25th Street North and the triplexes at 20th and Wellington Place,  are being taken now, said Penny Herron, who is handling rental leases for the apartments.

Herron said apartments in McLean Manor are expected to be ready by mid-to-late March. However, first priority for those units will go to current residents of Greenway Manor, which is beginning to be vacated to begin reconstruction.. But there will be space for additional residents, Herron said.

Top priority is for applicants 62 and older, then 55 or older and disabled, then 50 older and disabled, then under 50 and disabled. Rent is 30% of household income with HUD and Low Income Housing Tax Credit providing subsidies to make up the rest of the market rental value.

To get on the waitlist, call Mennonite Housing at 316-942-4848.