Construction underway at Washington, Grand

An $800,000 housing project is being built at Washington and Grand, site of the former Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, which burned in 2004. Plans call for 10 units?two four-plex units and one duplex. The first phase?constructing one of the four-plexes?is under way and scheduled for completion in September. Click photo to enlarge

Workers level concrete for the first four-plex structure to be constructed at Washington and Grand. Martin Rhodes, building inspector for Hillsboro, is project manager for the construction. Rhodes is under contract with Solomon Langley of San Francisco, Calif., who is financing the $800,000 project. Ron Dirksen of Dirksen Construction, Goessel, is the general contractor, and most of the materials for the project have been purchased locally or in the immediate area, Rhodes said. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press. Click photo to enlarge.

Convenience to the downtown business district is one of the things already generating interest in a new housing project under way at the corner of Washington and Grand streets in Hillsboro.

Solomon Langley, a business executive who lives in the San Francisco area of California, is financing an $800,000 project that calls for up to 10 units?two four-plex units and one duplex?to be built on the lot formerly occupied by the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church building before it burned in 2004.

The first four-plex is now under construction and is scheduled for completion in Septem?ber or October. The second four-plex and the duplex will follow after the completion of this first phase.

Spearheading the project locally is Martin Rhodes, who is under contract with Langley to be the project manager. Rhodes said he has no other financial stake in the project.

Rhodes, whose day job is building inspector for the city of Hillsboro, said he has conversed frequently with Langley by telephone, but has never met the man face to face.

He said Langley has been involved in other housing projects around the country and was informed of this available property through a family connection living in Hills?boro.

When asked by Langley for a suggestion for local project manager, the real-estate agent who handled the sale of the property recommended Rhodes.

?He called Solomon, and Solomon called me?it?s evolved from that,? Rhodes said. ?I?ve never met the man, but he?s true blue. He does exactly what he says he will do.?

Among the things he said he would do, Rhodes added, is to use local labor and material providers.

Ron Dirksen of Dirksen Construction, Goessel, is the general contractor, and most materials for the project have been purchased locally or in the immediate area, Rhodes said.

Each living unit will have just under 1,200 square feet of space with an attached oversized single-car garage accessible from the alley, Rhodes said.

?They are two-bedroom units, designed for the elderly?but that doesn?t mean you have to be elderly to buy one,? Rhodes said. ?They?re all ADA built and each one has a concrete storm shelter built into it.?

Each unit will have two bedrooms, with the master suite being slightly larger. It will also include a galley kitchen with a utility area for a dryer and washer, water heater and heating and air-conditioning.

Each unit will be landscaped prior to sale with a sprinkler system.

Rhodes said the owners will form a condo association and operate accordingly.

?By going to a condo association, we did not have to abide by the setback rules of how many units we could get on that site,? Rhodes said, ?As a typical condo unit, the purchaser will be assessed a monthly fee for all of the yard maintenance, water, sewer and trash.

?The only thing the owner will have to pay for, as far as utilities, is gas and electricity. Each unit will have a separate meter.?

The units will sell for between $110,000 and $115,000 each, according to Rhodes, and will be marketed through the Real Estate Center in Hillsboro.

Rhodes said extra precautions have been taken in construction to ensure that building on a former church site will not create a problem down the road.

?Because it?s built on the site of a church that had a basement in it, I was very concerned about maybe settling,? Rhodes said. ?So, on every 15-foot center throughout this whole complex, we went down to undisturbed earth?which is close to 8 feet?and poured 18-inch peers. So it?s setting on stilts down to solid earth.?

Rhodes said the city will remake the curb and gutters along Washington and Grand, which once served as parking area for church attenders.

?They?ll straighten the curb on Washington so it aligns with the rest of the curb along the street,? Rhodes said.

If the development goes according to plan, this may not be the only project Langley initiates in Hillsboro.

?Solomon has also asked me to keep my ear to the ground for any additional property that we could do once we?re done with these,? Rhodes said.

?I think he has done a lot of research on Hillsboro and all of Marion County so that he could say, ?Yes, I want to make that kind of investment and risk to see this thing go.??

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