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Trabert Hall proposal

CenterPointe would like to build low-income housing for seniors on land south of Trabert Hall, which it plans to renovate to serve people with mental health and addiction issues.

CenterPointe wants to apply for a federal grant to build a $1.5 million housing unit for low-income seniors on the site of Trabert Hall, President and CEO Topher Hansen said Thursday.

Last fall, the Lancaster County Board on a divided vote approved the conditional sale of Trabert Hall to CenterPointe. The property had been home to a variety of county agencies over the years.

CenterPointe, a nonprofit that provides mental health and substance abuse care, would only build its proposed housing venture if it wins a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

"We’re looking to expand and serve a wider variety of people and meet the needs of the people in our community," said Maggie Peavy, CenterPointe's director of housing operations.  

Peavy and CenterPointe President and CEO Topher Hansen briefed the County Board on the proposal Thursday because the sale of the Trabert Hall land is contingent on a successful fundraising campaign to build the separate outpatient clinic and apartments in the historic building at 2202 S. 11th St.

The county has first right of refusal on the property.  

The 10 new housing units would be open to people 62 years and older who qualify under federal poverty guidelines. They would not have to be clients of CenterPointe. 

The CenterPointe project would compete with at least one other 10-plex project in Nebraska for this grant, Hansen said.

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A decision on the grant application will be made by the end of the year, and construction funded by the grant, if received, could start as soon as February 2021, he said.

This project is financially separate from the $10 million campaign CenterPointe has undertaken to pay for the renovation of Trabert Hall. 

If that campaign isn't successful, Lancaster County can buy the land back for the $400,000 CenterPointe paid for it. 

The four-story building renovation would turn the garden-level basement and first two floors into an outpatient behavioral health clinic, a medical clinic and offices. The top two floors would be apartments for clients, Hansen said.

Before housing construction could begin, CenterPointe would need to subdivide the land and get zoning approvals. 

Several commissioners expressed concern about whether approving this project and carving off that parcel of the land would diminish the value of the property.

"I’m just really concerned about how everything's going to fall into place," said board Chairwoman Roma Amundson, who supports the Trabert Hall project. 

Hansen replied with reassurance, saying the fundraising campaign for renovations is on track.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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