Mer Che Manor also getting renovation

DANVILLE — A project to improve another public housing complex for senior and disabled residents is under way.

The Danville Housing Authority is converting 14 efficiency apartments at Mer Che Manor, at 723 N. Oak St., into one-bedroom units as part of its Phase I renovation project. Evan & Ryan Contractors of Terre Haute, Ind., which offered a $482,000 bid, was hired as the general contractor.

"It reduces the density of people in the building, but that's a good thing," Executive Director Greg Hilleary said.

Built in the mid-1960s, Mer Che currently has 100 units including 60 efficiencies, 39 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit. The Phase I efficiencies include two adjacent units on each of the building's seven floors.

"It's a column of units that run the entire height of the building," Hilleary said. "They're all plumbed together, so that will make them easier to convert."

For each pair of efficiencies, contractors will tear down walls to connect the units, gut one kitchen and bathroom and reconfigure the remaining ones. The newly remodeled units also have gotten energy-efficient appliances, toilets, shower heads, faucets, ceiling fans and lights that the housing authority has installed throughout its developments as part of its $5 million energy performance upgrade.

Phase I is expected to wrap up by the end of March or early April.

Additional work will be done when funding becomes available. Some of it calls for lightly remodeling the remaining efficiencies by replacing old flooring, installing new cabinets and adding some type of wall to separate the bedroom from the living area. Architects currently are working on designs.

"They're not conducive to (converting into one-bedroom units) because they're somewhat scattered," Hilleary said, adding the goal is to make them more marketable.

"As the units become more modernized, we will have a higher demand for them. That may allow us to, in the long term, convert Mer Che into a senior-only building," Hilleary said, adding the building originally was designed for that.

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