ACC explores housing option

Allen Community College trustees want to see a lease proposal to start negotiations for a plan that would potentially house students at a former nursing home complex now under construction.

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Local News

March 6, 2024 - 2:27 PM

Allen Community College Board of Trustees Chairman Rebecca Nilges, left, and Corey Schinstock discuss a proposal that would lease the former Arkhaven nursing home for student housing. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Allen Community College leaders agreed to explore a proposal that would lease an apartment complex now under construction at the site of a former nursing home. They still have a lot of questions.

Developer Shane Lamb offered the former Arkhaven nursing home complex on North Walnut Street to lease for student housing. Lamb is currently renovating the facilities, which include a large, H-shaped central building and two smaller structures. 

Allen trustees agreed Tuesday to ask Lamb to submit a lease agreement, outlining his expectations for costs and design. 

In a presentation to Allen’s board of trustees in February, Lamb said the larger building could be renovated for use as dorm rooms for about 120 students, with the smaller buildings providing 12 apartments that could be used by faculty and staff that would help Allen recruit instructors and coaches, or to host guests. The Arkhaven complex has been vacant since 2015. 

OF PARTICULAR concern for trustees on Tuesday was Lamb’s request that the college pay him $300,000 upfront.

The amount is equal to that of a potential grant Lamb would have sought were he to develop the complex for the general public.

That sum would be in addition to rent.

Lamb also proposed a staggered approach that would allow students to move into part of the complex while the rest was still under construction. Trustees objected to the idea of students living in a construction zone. Allen President Bruce Moses said perhaps the lease could be split, with the college using the two smaller buildings when they become available (possibly this summer) and a separate lease for the larger facility starting in the fall of 2025.

TRUSTEES also had questions about parking and a security fence around the perimeter, which also would need to be included in any lease agreement. 

Cynthia Jacobson, vice president for student affairs, talked to Lamb prior to the trustees’ board meeting Tuesday. In her recap of the conversation to trustees, Jacobson asked if they want to continue to pursue the proposal.

“I think we should, because housing is an issue for us,” trustee Corey Schinstock said. “The other alternative is building new and that’s not an option.”

“I have a hard time making a decision to move forward when we don’t have any information,” board chairman Rebecca Nilges said.

The board agreed to ask Lamb to submit a lease proposal and site plan, then begin negotiations to see if the parties can come to an acceptable agreement.

“I think it’s at least worth going to the next step,” Schinstock said. “Bring us some options.”

Allen Community College Trustee Vicki Curry reviews information Tuesday.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

LEASING the former Arkhaven complex could give the college time to potentially build new dorms or a new building for Career and Technical Education, or both. Moses and other administrators have discussed plans to expand CTE programs to attract more students to Allen but the college doesn’t have the necessary space. 

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