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Walnut Commons in Muncie IN Serves Veterans of Disability, Need

May 30

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Friday, May 30, 2014  RssIcon

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Jose Gaiten liked the new neighbor that will provide housing and help to veterans with disability, age or those without a home.

Walnut Commons will be that place across from American Legion Post 19 at Walnut and Wysor, where the old Muncie Armory stood more than 30 years ago. Also home to Goff's Drive In and local chamber and United Way offices, the site across from the Muncie Fieldhouse will have 44 apartments by 2015 dedicated to serving veterans.

A partnership among local government, a Chicago developer and a health care system dedicated to serving those with physical and mental disability is undertaken the $8.3 million project called supportive living for veterans.

Gaiten, commander of the legion post, said some veterans have no place to go and little help, given the recent scandal that veterans had to wait months for appointments from Veteran Administration medical clinics and hospital.

Mayor Dennis Tyler, who helped break ground on the site, recalled his own brother who came back from Vietnam survived he war but not the welcome home.

Tyler's brother, like other veterans gets help from Meridian Health Services that is partnering with Daveri Development of Chicago that will build and manage Walnut Commons. 

Meridian will provide support services for veterans who live at the commons which also will have community and computer rooms besides health services on site.

Gerry Cyranowski, vice president of clinical services for Meridian, said it took more than two years secure financing and management for the project that had been a passion of former director Suzanne Gresham.

Tyler also promoted the project and continue to work through hurdles like an initial site in south Muncie that was opposed by neighbors and then getting federal tax credits with the development group to ensure construction.

The state also found a critical need for housing to serve homeless veterans and others. While local shelters serve that need, there are still hundreds of people living in abandoned houses or old eastside hotels that have become havens for alcoholics, drug addicts and criminals.

Johanna Casanova, development director and engineer for Daveri, said the company was able to secure tax credits and move forward immediately, given their investment and reputation with government providing affordable housing in Chicago.

Daveri is part of Up Development that Chicago real estate tycoon Cullen Davis started to rehab old,Chicago Housing Authority properties. He also has built new in the Windy City with over 1,000 multi-family units and more than 4,000 more units managed by his property firms.

Casanova said Muncie had great partners with local government and health services that ensured a successful venture.

The developer has hired Construction Planning and Management of Indianapolis, to be general contractor who will hired local skilled labor and subcontractors to build the apartments.

Craig McCafferty, CPM vice president, anticipated work would be finished in spring of 2015 as a crew turned over some dirt Thursday for the groundbreaking.

As Gaiten said, the apartment building would be a welcome addition to the DWNTWN since some buildings and the old drive in had been abandoned for years.

The city also planning on a massive effort to tear down abandoned buildings and homes with more federal money, getting help from neighborhood groups and non-profit organizations.

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