Courthouse View Apartments to re-open Jan. 1

Marlys Barker
Courthouse View Apartments to re-open Jan. 1

It was Feb. 19 of this year that a fire broke out in the Courthouse View Apartment building on Sixth Street, resulting in the displacement of over 20 Nevada renters who lived in the building.

Now, nearly a year later and after a tremendous amount of work, the building’s owners, Phil and Paula Page, who have had the building over 40 years, are just about ready to open it back up to residents. On Jan. 1, the first people who have asked to move back into the building will be allowed to move into units on the second and third levels of the four-level (with the basement as one level) building.

Standing inside the apartment unit where the fire broke out earlier in the year, Phil comments on the undertaking that they have gone through to bring the building, which has had and will continue to have 24 apartment units, back to a safe and even more wonderful living environment for residents.

“I never would have imagined we’d get into this amount of work,” said Phil, saying the work has focused on improving both safety and modernization.

Phil gives major credit to his son, Aaron, who he said, “has spent untold hours in here with us. He has been unbelieveable help to us with this project.”

Aaron said getting the building back to being ready for residents has been a challenge and certain requirements, he said, were made in order to raise the safety standards and functionality of the property.

“Thanks to the expertise of our various contractors and friends, such as Roger Sampson,” Aaron said, they’ve been able to get things done. “We were fortunate to get the help we have from these contractors, since construction seems to be booming in central Iowa and everyone has been so busy.” Aaron listed a number of local people and businesses that have helped with the apartment building renovations.

His main job, Aaron said, was to determine what needed to be done and locate tradesmen to accomplish those tasks. As well, he physically picked up the slack on any part of the work so that other tradesmen wouldn’t be held up from continuing forward.

“One of Aaron’s first projects was to put in a new venting system to take air from the bathrooms to the outside,” his father said.

Phil said they knew the building needed a major overhaul, because even though there was a lot of damage to the area where the fire happened, there was smoke damage to the entire structure. As they went through the work of repairing one thing, that one thing would lead to other things, getting them into more work than they ever thought they would encounter, but all valuable work to do, according to Phil.

As he walks around the building, Phil talks about how improvements were made for plumbing throughout, with many units having new bathroom fixtures. CAT5 cable was put in the building, so residents can have, along with regular cable, the opportunity for other audio-visual networking. All the closets now have modern storage systems in them, making closet space more functional.

New flooring, drywall, painting, doors, lots of LED lights and other updates are noticeable throughout the building. Some units now have new kitchen cabinetry and appliances. Some units have new bathroom fixtures. The mechanical rooms on each floor now have coded locks.

There has also been lots of new insulation and sound-deadening materials put in between walls and between floors, Phil said, which should improve the peacefulness of the place, even though they always felt it was pretty peaceful before.

There are also safety features in the building, such as new smoke dampers on all levels and in every apartment. And, “we now have a total (new) fire alarm system in here,” Phil said, commenting on the help they’ve received from local fire chief, Ray Reynolds, who has worked with them to see that a number of new codes are now met and that they’ve got the best fire safety equipment possible.

When asked about the cost of repairing and making the building livable again, Phil said there are hundreds of thousands of dollars involved. If it wasn’t for much of it being covered by insurance, he admits, “we’d be out of business.” To increase efficiency, they made a decision early on to be their own general contractor and keep as much of the work local as possible.

The first big bill they had was right after the fire, from a company that came in and totally stripped the building of all damaged elements. That work lasted a few months, Phil said. “Smoke damage and infiltration into areas you could not see was tremendous. There was even an ozone agent put in here, so much that you couldn’t come into the building for awhile. We did a lot of coating with material made to irradicate the smoke odor.”

The work at times has seemed overwhelming, but the Page family hasn’t once regretted the decision to bring the Courthouse View Apartments back to being livable. “I kind of felt like this (building) is a part of Nevada and needs to be restored,” Phil said. The building was originally built, Phil said, as the Nevada Creamery. Its history also includes housing a roller skating rink and a bowling alley during bygone days.

Aaron is excited about completing the work. “I’m so looking forward to getting this occupancy permit so tenants can move in and this building can finally get back to doing what it has done for many decades… providing safe, quiet and clean housing for Nevada citizens,” he said.

A ribbon cutting is planned for the Courthouse View Apartments re-opening on Monday, Dec. 28, at 9 a.m. All area residents are invited to attend.