Baldwin City’s Orchard Lane completing renovation of apartment building
Orchard Lane’s oldest apartment building is brighter, more accessible and, most importantly, safer after $500,000 worth of renovations just now wrapping up.
Christine Waters, director of the Orchard Lane complex, said a yearlong project made extensive upgrades to the interior and exterior of the 31-unit western-most building in the Orchard Lane complex. Although there are apartments in 56-unit Orchard Lane complex available to all, those in the newly renovated building are reserved for seniors or the disabled.
The extensive improvements, the first overhaul of the building since it opened in 1979, were made possible through a $400,000 Affordable Housing Program Grant offered by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, Waters said. Baldwin City, Douglas County and the sweat equity of the complex’s staff added another $100,000 to that effort, she said.
The list of upgrades is long and includes new flooring in hallways and shared common rooms, installation of new exterior doors, a complete renovation of the community room kitchen with new appliances, new washers and dryers in the laundry room, installation of an updated fire alarm system and new guttering and eaves. The building's sidewalks, parking lot and patio were replaced, which was a needed safety enhancement, Waters said.
“One reason we sought the grant was we needed to make ADA safety improvements,” she said. “There were cracks in the parking lot and patio, and the sidewalks were breaking apart.”
Other work included storm water drainage improvements and replacement of sewer line.
The new kitchen cabinets have a much brighter finish than those that were removed, and trim throughout the building is now covered with a coat of white paint.
“It’s more up to date,” Waters said. “We wanted a brighter, friendlier atmosphere.”
The staff held a couple of units open through the process so that tenants could be moved to newly renovated apartments as work was done on the vacated units.
“We tried to move them to apartments near the same location with similar views,” Waters said. “We didn’t want to put them through the stress of moving twice.”
The Orchard Lane staff did the work inside the apartments, which included repainting, new appliances and replacement of plumbing and electrical fixtures, Waters said.
Among those with new apartment Is Bob Needels.
“We love it,” said Needels, who has lived in at the apartment complex with his wife, Edith, for 20 years. “The new apartments has the works.”
Longtime Baldwin City residents will note one other change. Known for years as Hancuff Place, the board of the nonprofit apartment facility decided to rename the complex Orchard Lane for the street on which it sits. The change name helps out-of-town visitors locate the apartments and aids with the marketing message to non-seniors, Waters said.
With the work nearing completion, Orchard Lane is planning a dedication and open house. The dedication will be at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 29 with the open house to follow from 4 to 6 p.m.