EATON — The Residences at Eagles Point is officially open for business. Residents may have already moved in, but Eagles Point held its grand opening on Tuesday, April 11.
The ceremony was run by Brian McGeady, who is the President of Affordable Housing Development at Miller-Valentine Group. Numerous individuals involved with the project spoke and at the end each received an award.
The project was led by Miller-Valentine Group, St. Mary Development Corp. and the H.I.T. Foundation. It cost $11 million and created 40 apartments which are income restricted. Part of the project was paid for using Ohio Historic Preservation tax credits from the Ohio Development Services Agency, which called for historic preservation during renovation of the building.
While some residents have already moved in, there are still available apartments.
Miller-Valentine Group has been working with affordable housing since 1993 and is the third largest developer in the country, but McGeady noted, Eagles Point was a group effort. They received numerous forms of tax credits for this project and worked with different banks and agencies to make those efforts painless. He specifically thanked the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, River Hills Bank, and the H.I.T. Foundation.
McGeady added, for him it’s all about the residents.
“We want to make this a great place to live, we want to change your life for the better,” he said. “We want to take care of your housing needs, so you don’t have to worry about that component of your life. That this can be a wonderful life that you don’t need to think about.”
Two Eagles Point residents spoke about their experience and what brought them to the apartment complex. One was staying in a homeless shelter before she found the Residents at Eagles Point and the complex allowed her to reunite with her son. The other was a domestic violence victim who was staying with her brother and the Residents at Eagles Point gave her a place to call her own.
“There is just not enough high quality affordable housing,” McGeady said. “Every community we go to, there seems to be a shortage, when you’re talking about giving people a wonderful place to live at an affordable price. There wasn’t a housing development that was not subsidized that was located in Eaton prior to this one. It was a really important thing to bring that to this community.”
Congressman Warren Davidson said, “I hope that the folks who come here find it a nice home, find it a safe place to live, and it does what it is intended to do. Thank you all for the vision to put it together. Thank you all for continuing to serve.”
Connie Laug, District Director for Senator Rob Portman, and Jeff Daniels, Regional Representative for Sherrod Brown, spoke regarding the larger impact the new complex will have.
Daniels read Brown’s words of congratulations. He read, “I would like to commend the City of Eaton, Miller Valentine-Group, the H.I.T. Foundation, and countless others who have helped to make this new site possible. By re-purposing the historic former Eaton High School into an affordable housing solution, you have demonstrated your commitment to both your neighbors and your future.”
Ohio Representative for District 43 Jeff Rezabek said, “This is an interesting time for me to come back to this building. I had the opportunity as I began my first election campaign, it’s almost three years to the date, when you guys had a meeting here and you invited the community to come and evaluate whether you guys wanted to do this. You had tremendous leadership and tremendous vision about what this building could be.”
Ohio Senator for District 5 Bill Beagle said that affordable housing projects are necessary and that there are not enough of them. He noted, if those with a lower income have housing designed for them, their life is easier and fuller. He said, “Projects like this are vital, so our community can come together. These residents are part of our community. Affordable housing is one of the building blocks of our community. This is going to be an important part of this community and it is exciting to be a part of this. If people live in affordable housing, then the residents are going to have money in their pocket for health care, money in their pocket for food, and it’s going to relieve some of the tension on other parts of our social system.”
As he was introducing the next speaker, McGeady said it is always good to be welcomed by a city and he congratulated Eaton as being one of those cities. That led him to introducing Mayor Dave Kirsch.
“This is a great day for the City of Eaton,” Kirsch noted. “Not only the City of Eaton, but Preble County.” He then shared a proclamation from the City of Eaton, recognizing the transition from Eaton High School to The Residences at Eagles Point.
Midwest Project Management Director Denise Blake got emotional during her speech when she was addressing the residents. “We do it to change your lives,” she said.
She said that this process started for her in 2013 when she got a phone call about the project. “In the beginning, not going to lie, it was a little intimidating,” she added. “It’s a big building, lots of ‘hair’ as we like to call it. It has all these little things, all these little intricacies. But if there was a company that I thought was up for the challenge it was Miller-Valentine. It was something that we could do. We began to focus on how to make this happen. You have a great local partner, you have the H.I.T. Foundation, who lives and breathes Preble County. You have this wonderful building and a supportive community. How else do you work on this?”
She added, they had to “put together the right team” and figure it out. “There’s lots of bumps in the road, but you take it because it’s all worth it in the end,” she said.
H.I.T. Foundation President Mary Bullen thanked the crowd for coming and noted the people who worked together in 2012 to examine the communities housing needs. She acknowledged that is what originally led to this project. The H.I.T. Foundation’s vision is that everybody has a decent place to live. She added, the staff often attends housing conferences to see what other communities are doing.
In 2012, the Foundation worked with the Preble County Commissioners to come up with a County Consolidated Plan and saw that there was a lack of affordable housing in Preble County. That is when the old high school came into conversation.
“Now we’re not just talking about one house, we’re talking about the potential of many,” she added.
They bought the school from the Eaton Community Schools and began work.
Bullen thanked everyone involved for their help and the support she received over the years. She said, “Lots of people helped, I’m not going to say names. Lots of people stood in the way. A lot of negative rants, raves, rumors. To you, I say, please try to stay positive. Get a can-do attitude or just get out of the way.”
The ceremony was followed by a ribbon cutting held at the facility’s Cherry Street entrance.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH