Posted on Sep 04, 2022
For our September 7 in-person Rotary meeting, long-time Rotarian Mike Sollenberger, along with Lori French, gave us an overview of the DMA Plaza and The Remington high-rise senior-living facility on Remington Street at Olive in downtown Fort Collins.  The DMA (previously the Downtown Marketing Association) is a non-profit organization that includes the DMA Plaza and The Remington under its wing.  Mike, a long-time member of our club, is the President of the Board of the DMA Plaza and Lori is the Executive Director of The Remington. 
The Remington is an eleven-story building that was created by the DMA in the late 1960s, replacing the Remington School which was built in 1879 and torn down in 1969.  At the demolition of the school, the DMA stepped in to keep the location from being turned into a large parking lot.  It was a HUD project with construction started in 1972 and completed in 1974.  At completion, it had 126 units for low-income seniors. 
In 2012, the time-limited HUD support ended and the board had a number of options on what to do going forward.  Ultimately, they decided that they had the internal expertise to manage the refurbishment of the building and put it on a firm financial basis for moving forward as a senior-living facility.  They focused on the availability of low-income tax credits from the Federal Government as the primary source of funds for going forward.  Some of these tax credits were available on a competitive basis but they were “out-competed”.  Other tax credits were awarded on a non-competitive basis and the DMA was awarded a suite of those credits.  Once in hand, the credits were sold to a consortium of banks, which could satisfy their community investment requirements, resulting in a fund of $17.5 million.  An additional $2.5 million was awarded from HUD and another $1 million came from the Colorado State Department of Housing, resulting in a total of $21 million. 
Initial evaluation of the building determined that it had “good bones” of steel and concrete but that it had so much asbestos so that it was impossible to simply encapsulate the asbestos and leave it in place.  They decided to do the remodeling, including removing the asbestos, from the top down and studs out, essentially one floor at a time, thereby allowing the residents to stay in the building with minimal movement required.  They had numerous show-and-tells explaining the process and showing the expected finished product so that the residents were well-informed from the beginning.  During the construction, the residents were issued noise-cancelling headphones so that they could listen to their normal programs without having to blast the sound.  At the start of the project, there were enough empty apartments that none of the residents had to be moved out; those apartments were fitted out with inexpensive but good-quality furniture and the individuals who had to move to them had their personal goods boxed up as needed and then returned when the individuals moved into their permanent new locations.  Ultimately, as the apartments on the upper levels were completed, individuals were moved from their old apartments directly into their new apartments on higher floors.  With the advent of Covid in 2020, the residents were quickly segregated from the workers so that residents had one stair well and the workers had another so the work continued apace and no one’s health was compromised. 
The firm of Architecture Plus was involved in design both before and during construction.  The actual construction was handled by Brinkman Construction, which brought the project in under budget and mostly on time.  The project involved completely new dry wall through the building and new exterior panels, resulting in actually adding square feet and more insulation to the building.  The result is that the building is now approximately LEAD Silver compliant. 
In the process of the refurbishing the building, the number of apartments was reduced from 126 to 124, but there were added or significantly improved social center, postal room, exercise room, laundry room, and conference room.  Since the DMA was the developer and owners rep on a volunteer basis, the savings of some $3 million allowed the addition of covered resident parking and an outdoor patio/picnic area. 
What are the income and age restrictions?  They have apartments for individuals with 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60% of the AMI (median income).  For 60%, that is around $45,000 per year.  All residents must by at least 62 years old (or 55 to 61 with disability).  The least expensive accommodation is $375 per month, including utilities.  The rent can be kept low since the facility has no debt. 
More details about individuals moving during the renovation?  The temporary suites were furnished with inexpensive but quality furniture.  At the end of the renovation, rather than getting rid of that furniture, it was sold at a nominal price to residents who wanted it and that money was incorporated in social funds for the residents. 
Any apartments reserved for veterans?  No.  However, there is another facility in Fort Collins that is partly restricted to veterans. 
How many apartments now and is there a waiting list?  There are now 124 apartments and there is a waiting list of up to two years. 
Any premium for apartments on the upper floors?  No.  The same rent for every identical apartment. 
Clarification about the $3 million in apparently foregone management fees?  Mr. Sollenberger gave a very low-key Rotarian sort of answer implying that it was just part of doing good.