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Former Downtowner Motel property could become low income senior housing

The Downtowner Motel property has been abandoned since 2003.  Now, a local development company is working to turn what some call an eyesore into low-to-moderate income senior housing. 

To some, the former Downtowner Motel in Eureka represents the very problems facing the community.

"It makes me sad because when I was here, back in 1996, the economy was so much better, and this was running.  Of course there were more jobs and stuff like that,” said Glenn Cannon, a Eureka resident and senior citizen.

"It's just sad to see it just sit there, falling apart and turning into junk," said Sheryl Silva, who is a Eureka resident.

But now, Danco is under contract with the property owner of the former motel to develop the site into low to moderate income housing for seniors ages 62 and older.

"There's going to be a lot of nice amenities to the project, plus it's within walking distance to the downtown, and it's all going to be affordable," said Chris Dart, the Vice President of Danco.

And what developers say will be a family atmosphere.

"There's going to be an area where the residents can gather.  They can get to know each other, they can have events," Dart said.

Free social services will be provided to residents as well.

"I'm having conversations now with the Senior Resource Center in Eureka to declare what those are going to be," said Dart.

"I think it's wonderful.  I think it's fantastic.  We need more, there's a lot of seniors in Eureka," said Velma Price, who is a senior citizen and a Eureka resident.

"I think it's a really good idea.  There's a lot of senior citizens out here that cannot pay these rents, including me, but I'm lucky because my son is taking care of me.  But however, there's a lot of them out there whom do need this," said Kay Carper, who is a McKinleyville resident and a senior citizen.

But challenges for development remain.  Dart says construction could begin next spring, but if Danco does not get awarded the state funded HOME Program grant in September, it could set construction back a year.

"The City of Eureka is working with us to help us apply for this grant that then would be able to leverage the remaining financing," Dart said.

If Danco can get the necessary financing to begin construction, the senior housing could be open in the spring of 2016.