Old Benton Harbor Fire Station transforming into apartments - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Old Benton Harbor Fire Station transforming into apartments

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A fire station is transformed into several homes. Work has begun to turn a former Benton Harbor Fire Station into six one bedroom apartments.

Three first floor apartments and three second floor apartments. That's what will exist inside the old fire station building once Project Manager Marshall Downs' vision is complete. "Two bays that fire trucks used to drive into that's still gonna kind of define the space. There's gonna be a couple units on this side and a handicap accessible unit on this side," said Downs.

When the inside is transformed six people will be able to live in the building. "They'll have kind of a kitchenette I guess you could call it. Their own restrooms, washer and dryer all the amenities that you need to be on your own," said Downs.

But not just anyone can take up residency in the building. Executive Director of Emergency Shelter Services, Alysia Babcock said, "we're aiming at single women who are a little bit older and you know some one who maybe's been working for many years in manufacturing lost their job don't really have the skills or education to find employment that can support them."

The apartments will serve to get chronically homeless women off the streets. "There's a huge need in this community. There's just a lack of safe affordable housing," said Babcock.

It'll provide shelter but rehabbing the building provides another bonus. "Just the improvement that it brings to the neighborhood," said Downs. "What a great opportunity to turn something that's kind of an eyesore into a home for six people," said Babcock.

The fire pole hatch will be covered up, the garage doors will become windows, and the asphalt driveway will be removed all to give the structure a more residential feel. "You want to see life around a building that formerly was abandoned and blighted," said Downs.

The apartments should be finished in July and will be energy efficient.  Downs says funding for the project comes from a HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program given to the city of Benton Harbor.

Emergency Shelter Services will start taking applications for the units when the building nears completion. If interested Babcock says to visit the Department of Human Services. It's located at 401 8th Street in Benton Harbor. The phone number is 269-934-2000.

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