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Historic Rock Island apartment building set for multi-million dollar renovation

After nearly 20 years since the buildings last renovation, Sala Flats apartment complex will receive multi-million dollar renovation

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — A Rock Island apartment complex is set for a multi-million dollar renovation, after nearly 20 years since its last upgrades.

Sala Flats, located at 320 19th St, Rock Island, IL was originally built in 1903, with additions just 10 years later. Then in 2005, the building underwent its most recent renovations.

"While it was a strategic choice back in the early 2000s, and it was part of an effort to revitalize the downtown," Vice President of the Economic Growth Corporation Charlotte Flickinger said.

Now, the Illinois Housing Development Authority is granting Sala Flats $2.5 million towards renovating multiple aspects of the historic apartment building. Some of the upgrades include, a new security system, appliances and HVAC system.

"We've noticed a pattern over the last several years of the furnaces starting to you know, they're out living their useful life," Flickinger said. "And it's not unexpected, because, you know, we're in construction and development, and we know that these things happen. So I would say that the tenants have been very understanding when things are broken, and we've been replacing them as we go."

The city of Rock Island is contributing a TIF investment of $230,056, as a show of support for the project. The Economic Growth Corporation is also granting funds for the renovation, bringing the total rehab to a total of $4.6 million dollars, according to a press release from GROWTH.

"This place matters, right. And that's a motto of historic preservation everywhere, because as part of the growth and development of Rock Island, Salah has been here and is integral to it," Flickinger said. "So we're both serving the tenants and serving the interests of the history of rock island."

Sala Flats is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the last remaining historical apartment in downtown Rock Island. 

News 8's Charles Hart spoke with Director of the Quad Cities housing council Leslie Kilgannon, who said this renovation will help open up opportunities for those in need of more affordable housing in the community.

"I hope the community at large sees that everyone deserves a safe, decent, affordable place to live at whatever income level," Kilgannon said. "All the essential workers we applauded during the pandemic, are struggling to find places to live"

Officials say 12% percent the Quad Cities population is considered low income and that 6,500 units are needed. Kilgannon said in the last 10 years, more affordable housing units have gone offline.

"We have a lot of housing stock that's offline because it's abandoned, in disrepair, unoccupied," Kilgannon said. "There are many strategies that we can use to preserve and produce more units by bringing them back online. So this project is a great example of that."

The renovations will help support nearly 50 construction jobs, and retain 15 jobs in the community.

Officials say they hope to get construction underway within a few weeks, as of Monday, March 13. They hope to have the project finished by the end of 2023.

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