Making room for more Housing – Norfolk Daily News

Making room for more

Housing units will be adjacent to downtown Norfolk

Work begins on new $1.5 million student housing development


Nearly 50 government, economic and school officials gathered on Phillip Avenue in Norfolk on Monday morning to celebrate the commencement of a new $1.5 million student housing development project connected to a statewide effort to attract more young people to Nebraska.

Wayne State College, in collaboration with the development group of Kelby Herman and NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska, announced at Monday’s groundbreaking event that the student housing development would be the second to be used by the school’s Growing Together Career Scholars program. The new housing will be located at 414 W. Phillip Ave., adjacent to downtown Norfolk.

The housing units — 22 of which will be reserved for WSC students — will support program participants during their senior year as they complete two semesters of cooperative education with a local employer with the intention of convincing the students to stay in Norfolk.

Based on information shared at the ceremony, discussions for the development were set off by Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning about two years ago when he pitched the idea to NeighborWorks of a new housing development near downtown Norfolk. Roger Nadrchal, chief executive officer of NeighborWorks, later applauded the city’s work during his remarks.

Nadrchal also explained the finances of the loan for the development. For the project, he said NeighborWorks and Herman — who work together under an LLC called Phillip Avenue Apartments — applied for a $1 million grant from the state that required half of the grant amount to be matched in other funds, which included $300,000 from Herman, $200,000 from the City of Norfolk and $2,000 from the Greater Norfolk Economic Development Foundation.

And without those cash partners, Nadrchal said Phillip Avenue Apartments LLC would not have been able to apply for the fund.

Marysz Rames, president of Wayne State College, thanked Phillips Avenue Apartments LLC; Paul Turman, chancellor of the Nebraska State College System; U.S. Rep. Mike Flood; Angie Stenger, executive director of Northeast Nebraska Growing Together; and Michael Keibler, executive director of cooperative education at WSC, for their leadership and ambition for the project.

“The concept is that as we help our young people to understand Northeast Nebraska and all of the value we have to offer for these young people to stay in this part of the state,” she said of the development’s goal.

Flood thanked partners for their work and said he began discussions on more student housing in Norfolk back in 2018 and contributed to the listing of five pillars he said would help bring more young people to Norfolk.

  • -Solidify the presence of cooperative education programs in Northeast Nebraska, starting with the Growing Together Career Scholars at WSC.
  • -Take advantage of the investments Northeast Community College has made in the region.
  • -Continue making appeals to young people.
  • -Develop entrepreneurship.
  • -Continue making investments into early childhood education.

“We are the only city in the state that has a very unique problem, and that is we have a lot more talent coming in here in the next couple of years than maybe we have jobs for,” he said. “We are already talking to employers across the state that want to locate their businesses in Norfolk because of the caliber and the quality of these young people coming out of Wayne State College.”

City administrator Andy Colvin, on behalf of the City of Norfolk, said he was proud to see the project’s progression from the past six years. “I remember when Mike Flood came to me and Mayor Josh Moenning to talk about this idea that he had to form a task force of leaders and we didn’t really understand what it was but as you saw it come together, you could see the partnerships and the energy start developing from those conversations. As we have let things sort of happen, it has evolved on its own, and I am proud to see all the progress that’s happened in the community during the past five or six years,” he said.

Herman — described as the planner, contractor, builder and developer of the housing development — thanked investors and WSC officials. “As an employer and father of two college-age children, I think this is an awesome opportunity to keep our young people in Northeast Nebraska,” he said.

Herman added how Norfolk has one of the “best” developmental teams in the state. “Developing students into professionals is an important part of the Growing Together program and a great opportunity for students and the employers. I am excited to be a small part of that,” he said.

Sandy Wolfe, secretary of the NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska board, also thanked project partners, government entities and fellow board members. “NeighborWorks Northeast Nebraska is a changing organization. We’re venturing out into a variety of housing projects. We’re close to a thousand housing units developed since 1994. We do very little on our own. We rely completely on partners,” she said.