Oak Court Apartment plumbing project wrapping up; is roof next?

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority not only has housing included in its name, but housing is listed before its economic development mission. But, more often than not, when CHEDA makes news, it’s tied to economic development.

    To be sure, CHEDA makes residential housing-related news, but public housing? Not so much. And yet, a big part of what CHEDA is about in the community directly involves public housing, and Oak Court Apartments, tucked just past the Sampson’s Addition Bridge along the winding Red Lake River, is at the center of that focus. With CHEDA owning the building, that’s no accident.

    And there’s a lot happening at Oak Court, with 66 units. Constructed in 1969, CHEDA has overseen for the past couple years a plumbing replacement project with a price tag of just over $2.1 million. Of that cost, CHEDA contributed around $342,000, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said, with the rest coming in the form of a grant through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s (MHFA) Publicly Owned Housing Program (POHP).

    With many stakeholders and funding sources and the unsurprising bureaucratic red tape, it was already a complicated project, something the pandemic only magnified. But other than checking off a few final “punch items” and paying a couple remaining bills, Hoiseth said the plumbing project is essentially wrapped up.

    But as they say, it’s always something, and there’s another big thing at Oak Court that needs attention, the roof. Hoiseth said the current roof was installed in the early 1990s, and in recent years maintenance costs have mushroomed as patchwork efforts on the roof have increased. The CHEDA Board held its monthly meeting this week at Oak Court, and, while there, they checked out renovated units that resulted from the new plumbing, and also climbed an iron ladder from the fourth floor to see the roof for themselves. While there, Hoiseth and Bill Tate, head of maintenance at Oak Court, showed where a core sample of the roof’s layers – the top layer is rock – was taken to get a better idea of, according to Hoiseth, “what’s there” so that better cost estimates can be gleaned.

    It’s estimated a new roof would cost $500,000 to $600,000. CHEDA is working on a grant application, due by April 29, to MHFA. The CHEDA Board has authorized Hoiseth to leverage around $100,000 in local funds to boost the application’s chances of getting funded.

“Customized living”

    While touring Oak Court, board members stopped by Gladys Bakken’s third floor office. She runs RiverView Home Care, which partners with CHEDA to provide “customized living” to some of Oak Court’s residents. Customized living, she said, does not rise to the level of assisted living, as tenants are free to come and go as they please and they are frequently out and about in the community. Some of them simply have physical challenges, or mental health challenges, Bakken said.

    RiverView Home Care has approximately 24 staff, she said, and around half of them rotate shifts at Oak Court. There is always someone from Home Care on duty at Oak Court, she said, adding that approximately 14 Oak Court tenants are served by Home Care staff.

    Hoiseth said CHEDA and RiverView Home Care have a great working relationship, and that the payoff is a quality living environment for Oak Court’s residents, an environment improved by the plumbing replacement project and the related improvements to the 66 units that came with it.

    “We’re trying to put more of a focus on CHEDA’s public-housing function,” Hoiseth said. “Oak Court is a great example of what we’re able to do.”

Above left, during the CHEDA Board’s tour of Oak Court this week, Craig Hoiseth, left, discusses improvements to the facility’s 66 units that were part of a building-wide plumbing replacement project. Left to right next to him are Betty Arvidson, Tiffany Jones and Don Cavalier.
The CHEDA Board of Directors met at Oak Court this week to check out the almost-finished, multi-million dollar plumbing replacement project in the public housing facility owned by CHEDA. They also visited the roof, which needs to be replaced. Left to right are CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth and board members Kurt Heldstab, Craig Buness, Betty Arvidson, and Leon Kremeier, Oak Court head of maintenance Bill Tate, and board members Tom Vedbraaten and Don Cavalier.
Tour of the Oak Court Apartments roof
RiverView Home Care Director Gladys Bakken, right, explains in her office how “customized living” is provided to some of the building’s residents. Listening in left to right are Bill Tate, Hoiseth, and Kurt Heldstab.