Historic Buildings Transformed into Contemporary Apartments for Income-Eligible Residents
Winter gear could hardly muffle the applause today as project partners cut the ribbon on Hastings’ newest housing development, The Brewery Lofts.
“New,” in this case being a relative term: the two buildings in which the Lofts’ 35 freshly-minted apartments reside are 110-year-old local landmarks, listed on the National Register of Historic Places but newly-renovated by Cohen-Esrey Development Group, LLC.
Located just north of the downtown district on the southwest corner of 2nd Street and North Minnesota Avenue, the Lofts’ two historic buildings began life in 1908 as factory and bottling facilities for the Hastings Brewing Company. When Prohibition brought beer production to a halt, the spacious buildings with their characteristic smokestack were later used for ice cream production, meat packing and cold storage before eventually going idle.
Cohen-Esrey Development Group purchased the dormant buildings in 2015, drawing plans to convert them into contemporary residences that would be both attractive and affordable. The developer’s self-declared mission combines historic preservation with affordable housing development that benefits persons of lower income.
“Cohen-Esrey Development Group specializes in converting under-utilized historic buildings into affordable housing,” said Managing Director Tom Anderson. “We proudly present The Brewery Lofts as the transformation of the former Hastings Brewery and Bottling Works buildings into 35 affordable residences.”
Anderson went on to thank the City of Hastings for its partnership during the project.
“Developments such as The Brewery Lofts are complicated and expensive. We could not have repurposed these grand old buildings without the help of the City of Hastings, who served as an ideal partner throughout the entire development process,” he said.
In line with the developer’s mission, The Brewery Lofts blend early-20th-century architecture with modern amenities while being priced at an affordable rate. Each unit at The Lofts is reserved for tenants who are at or below 60% of the median area income. Due to this price point, the project was eligible for an $800,000 HOME Investment Partnership grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). The grant helped offset the nearly $8.1 million it took to make the Lofts a reality.
Allocated to each state by the Federal Government, HOME funds are the nation’s single largest federal funding source for low-income housing assistance. DED administers HOME funds on behalf of Nebraska in support of impactful projects that address local housing needs in communities statewide.
“The HOME investment program helps to support one of our key objectives as Nebraska’s lead economic development agency,” said DED Director Dave Rippe. “That of promoting and supporting the development of quality, affordable housing opportunities in communities across Nebraska. We applaud the ingenuity and creativity of the partners involved in the Brewery Lofts project, who have successfully leveraged HOME resources to make a concrete and lasting impact in the community of Hastings.”
Despite being affordably priced, the developers emphasize that no quality was sacrificed in creating beautiful, well-built apartments with contemporary features. Coming in spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 587 to 1,606-square-feet, the Lofts feature high-speed internet, washer-dryer units, a community picnic and grilling area and other amenities. Rent for the single-bedroom units will begin at $446 per month, with large three-bedroom units topping out at only $850.
Randy Chick, Director of project partners the Hastings Community Redevelopment Authority and Hastings Business Improvement District, emphasized the importance of the Brewery Lofts in terms of helping to address the city’s growing need for rental housing. A recent community survey put the local rental vacancy rate at only 3.1%.
“The completion of the Brewery Lofts is a win-win for the city of Hastings,” Chick said. “Not only have the developers preserved and made good use of an important historical landmark, they’ve also provided a much-needed housing option that is both attractive and affordable, and one that will spur our community’s growth and vitality for decades to come. We are thrilled to see this project come to fruition, and appreciate the partnerships and hard work that went into making it possible.”
The Brewery Lofts will be available for rent starting this month. For more information, contact Odals Oros at 402-834-2272. Communities can find more information on the HOME program by visiting the DED website at www.opportunity.nebraska.gov.