ROCHELLE — On Friday, Feb. 2, a groundbreaking ceremony was held by the City of Rochelle and New Directions Housing Corporation at 405 Lake Lida Lane in Rochelle for The Grove, a new family housing complex.
NDHC President Rodger Brown said the three-story apartment complex will have 30 total units with 15 units each of two and three-bedroom housing. The two-bedroom units will be about 750 square feet and the three-bedroom units will be about 950 square feet. The development will also have a management office on site, an exercise facility, laundry facilities, a community room, library, and on-site parking. Rents are expected to range from $500-1,000 a month.
“We expect it to take about 10-12 months for construction,” Brown said. “The city has been awesome to work with. The whole staff has been wonderful. We had good experiences with the departments of community development, building, and engineering. I wish more communities were like this. It's been fantastic. We're shooting to have it finished in December.”
NDHC has housing developments all across the state including workforce housing, family housing and senior housing. Brown said his organization is seeing demand and waiting lists at all of its facilities, and that market studies show a housing shortage.
“There's a demand for workforce housing and low-income housing,” Brown said. “Those areas are just not being served. Most of the stuff being built nowadays is high-end and very expensive. In all the developments we've done, we get waiting lists. We've never had a problem filling them up.”
Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows attended the groundbreaking and said the housing shortage is an issue in the city. He thanked NDHC and city staff for their work on bringing the project to fruition.
“It takes a team of great players and we have great people in the right spots,” Bearrows said. “I'm very proud of them and the work they do. As we always say when someone opens a new business in Rochelle, we say they can open it anywhere. The same thought stands true for this housing project. They could have built this anywhere, because there's shortages all across the nation. But they chose Rochelle and we're very thankful for that. We're looking forward to being a partner with them and working with them to facilitate the final ribbon cutting when the doors open. It's very important to us and our community and I can't say enough good things about it.”
NDHC is a nonprofit and has built and rehabilitated more than 500 multi-family and single-family units since its inception in 1994. Its purpose is to provide high-quality affordable housing to households who would otherwise be unable to afford safe and decent housing without undue hardship.
Brown said due to COVID-19 and issues that followed such as supply chain, workforce, and inflationary impacts, construction costs for the project have gone up “considerably” since it was first proposed. NDHC got extra financing from the state to help with that and had to come up with more capital of its own. The housing organization is currently seeing the same issues with three other developments.
The city’s community development department played a significant role in attracting the housing development to Rochelle.
“We have developments all across the state from the Wisconsin border down towards St. Louis,” Brown said. “When we first came out here, we met with city staff and they told us about all of the employment opportunities and businesses that were coming to town and the housing shortages here. And this is right off the interstate and it's in a good place for transportation. That led us here initially and working with the city staff since has been awesome.”