Milltown Apts. shuttered by shutdown - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Milltown Apts. shuttered by shutdown

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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — As the autumn cold sets in, dozens of affordable, efficient apartment units are standing empty — and local residents are suffering for it.

Planners behind the Milltown Apartment complex, located just north of Super 1, broke ground with the promise of housing that was both affordable and comfortable. Thanks to the shutdown of the federal government, however, those apartments will remain empty for an indeterminate period of time, according to Todd Prescott of complex developer Whitewater Creek.

“It’s your typical federal program — beginning and end of story,” he said.

Whitewater Creek received a loan earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture thanks to the project’s highly efficient construction practices and use of sustainable energy systems. The loan encompassed about 10 percent of the project’s total funding, Prescott said.

However, that loan required the project to be signed off by various administrators of the federal department. The complex’s original August opening date was pushed back while developers awaited final project approval. Prescott said the waiting period was longer than expected due to the need for paperwork to travel through local, state and federal tiers of the USDA. With most of the department now furloughed until Congress resolves the shutdown, Prescott said he can’t estimate an opening date with any kind of certainty.

It’s particularly frustrating to have capable apartment buildings standing empty when Whitewater Creek has overseen 45 similar projects in a much more expedient time frame, Prescott added. In the meantime, he’s keeping his eye on the news, hoping to see an end to the shutdown in sight.

That has placed several Sandpoint residents in a precarious situation, according to Tamie Martinsen of the Bonner County Homeless Task Force. The organization has received about eight phone calls from people who have left old housing with the expectation of moving into Milltown Apartments in August. Martinsen spoke of one unnamed woman in particular, who is now couch-surfing while she waits for the new apartments to open.  

Due to the shutdown, a USDA representative could not be reached for comment.

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  • ODIN937 posted at 8:01 pm on Tue, Oct 15, 2013.

    ODIN937 Posts: 458

    Things change. Effective management is not only flexible, but has contingency plans. To have the project opening delayed because of a late loan that provides just 10% of the funding, seems to me to be a reflection of incompetence on the part of Whitewater.

  • wilson posted at 8:55 am on Tue, Oct 15, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    Used to be that those in need of food could go to a "food bank" that had bulk potatoes, beans, rice, etc. and get enough for their family for a week. They would stand in line and you could drive by and see who was getting what. It worked very well, and no one starved to death. Yes, Lily, enough is enough. If these people would become employable (remove tattoos and piercings, for starters) they could fill many of the jobs available. Maybe a determination if they are trying to be decent human beings and find work or no freebies would be made, they could gain some self respect.

  • Lily posted at 1:56 am on Tue, Oct 15, 2013.

    Lily Posts: 146

    I'm so tired of paying for other people's lifestyles. I've worked with people who "can't afford" to live without public assistance. They give birth, so they are entitled to part of my pay check. Never mind personal responsibility. They can afford to have their $40 nails done, and spend their tax return on a load of new clothes, or trips abroad. They can afford cigarettes, candy bars, sodas, but not groceries for their kids, that we are now paying for. Now we are expected to pay for their housing. Enough is enough.

  • Corey Greve posted at 10:21 pm on Mon, Oct 14, 2013.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    The article clearly states that Whitewater has built similar projects with a much shorter time frame for gov't approval for occupancy. Why would they have expected this one to be any different? How is that mismanagement?

  • ODIN937 posted at 9:47 am on Mon, Oct 14, 2013.

    ODIN937 Posts: 458

    Good grief. Give it a rest.

  • ODIN937 posted at 9:46 am on Mon, Oct 14, 2013.

    ODIN937 Posts: 458

    TRUTH. Who is going to pay for the "free month's rent"? Whitewater Creek? Life is filled with inconveniences, most of which are not compensated. This is not the end of the world. For anyone.

  • ODIN937 posted at 9:44 am on Mon, Oct 14, 2013.

    ODIN937 Posts: 458

    My view is that the problem lies squarely at the feet of developer Whitewater Creek, if staff writer Rasmusson's article is correct. If the US Department of Agriculture through some legislation, I would imagine, thought it was in the nation's interest to give Whitewater Creek a loan, probably at a really good interest rate subsidized by the taxpayers, of course, then I would think that Whitewater would apply for that loan, which they apparently have done.

    This loan represents some ten percent of the money borrowed by Whitewater to fund this development. Now, not having served in the banking industry or in real estate, nevertheless, it seems to me that a bridge loan could have been obtained by Whitewater to overcome the late loan approval from the USDA.

    Whitewater could have avoided this whole situation and resulting inconvenience to potential renters who expected a for certain opening date and planned on that date. Poor management at Whitewater. We should not blame everything on the government, all of the time, although it is tempting to do so.

  • wilson posted at 12:04 pm on Sun, Oct 13, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    Proves once again that government incompetency reigns. No reason that the closing wasn't anticipated and all paperwork done, waiting for final inspection. Government workers have no idea about job responsibility.

  • TheTruth posted at 9:41 pm on Sat, Oct 12, 2013.

    TheTruth Posts: 82

    I would HOPE that there would be some form of compensation (even if it's First Month FREE Rent) for those who have been outed/inconvenienced by this problem. From what I understand, and have heard/seen, this cost several people their Homes. Even one man from another state!! Oregon I believe it was. He was told that August 3rd was the move in date, so by that time he had already prepared and made the trip here to Sandpoint, only to be told...........

  • TheTruth posted at 9:38 pm on Sat, Oct 12, 2013.

    TheTruth Posts: 82

    They Probably KNEW before hand that the shutdown was going to occur.. There were signs many weeks in advance that several agencies knew of an impending problem...

  • Corey Greve posted at 9:33 pm on Sat, Oct 12, 2013.

    Corey Greve Posts: 977

    Brooks, it states in the article that the approval process was started long before the shutdown, but since the process involves several government agencies, it took a long time. That time stretched into the current gov't shutdown, and that is where it now stands.

    I have been wondering why the place has been standing empty since it was "finished" in late summer. Government dependency has let us down once again.

  • TheTruth posted at 11:53 am on Sat, Oct 12, 2013.

    TheTruth Posts: 82

    Sitting and going to waste. Gov' doing what they do best with peoples lives....