(La Porte, IN) - A former cockroach-infested downtown LaPorte apartment building vacated on Christmas Eve is receiving a new lease on life.
On Monday, the La Porte City Council entered an agreement with a developer investing $1.8 million into the former Monroe Street Apartments. The agreement with Maple Commons LLC includes a $185,000 contribution from the $11 million the city received from the federal government under the American Rescue Act.
“We appreciate their interest in our community,” said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership. Cook said the multi-level brick exterior building at Monroe Street and Maple Avenue will be reduced from 46 to 38 units.
There will be a mix of studio apartments, one and two-bedroom units, along with penthouses in the former low-income residential building. Cook said monthly rent would range from $525 to $1,050. Money from the city will go specifically to improvements in the heating system and removing mold and lead-based paint throughout the building. He expects the apartments to be ready for occupancy early next year.
Mayor Tom Dermody said work has already begun on the structure once plagued by cockroaches, poor maintenance, drug activity, and other forms of behavior generating a high volume of calls to the police.
A six-month notice to comply with code violations or vacate the property was given to former owner Kevin Yang. A host of violations were still not addressed, though, when the notice expired on Christmas Eve, officials said. The people still living there, hoping they could stay until after Christmas, were ordered to leave.
Dermody, who described the living conditions as inhumane, said the city helped tenants find alternative housing. “We meant what we said, and we backed it up,” he said. There were 80 calls to the police for service at the apartment building during a 60 day period last year, according to Dermody. Some of them involved drug overdoses.
“The behaviors of the past isn’t going to happen anymore. We're excited,” he said.
The current developer acquired the property from a bank acting on default on the mortgage. Dermody said he expects the apartments to reflect the new standard of housing established when he took over as mayor in 2020 and positively impact the downtown.