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The developers of the Prichard Hotel Building in Huntington have been awarded $3 million to develop housing for low-income elderly residents.

HUNTINGTON — The developers who own the Prichard Hotel Building in Huntington have been awarded a $3 million grant toward its goal of developing housing for low-income elderly residents.

The grant, which is called the HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Award, will support “a massive redevelopment project for the Prichard Hotel Building,” a news release from Cornerstone Community Development said. The project budget to renovate over 100,000 square feet in the building is $40 million. Construction on the building is expected to start in January and will take 24 months to complete.

Cornerstone Community Development bought the Prichard Building in 2019. According to Cornerstone’s website, the 9th Street building has 13 floors.

The plan for the building includes 108 state-of-the-art living spaces for low-income elderly ages 55 and over, the release said. After renovation, the building will have “an intergenerational focus,” with living spaces for younger age groups. The first three floors of the building will be the Geriatric Center for Excellence.

“This program ultimately expands the supply of affordable housing for the elderly — one of our most vulnerable populations,” said Jane Miller, deputy regional administrator of HUD’s Mid-Atlantic region, in a news release from the agency. “Funding will cover both capital advance and project rental assistance, creating a greater supply of new rental units while supporting the viability of existing properties.”

Plans also include developing spaces within the building for research and finding answers on the long-term effects that the coronavirus will have on the elderly population, the release said.

“The mixture of the generations will produce a beautiful synergy that will give life to all concerned,” said Nikki Thomas, president of Cornerstone Community Development, in the release.

She added that the new grant will help residents settle into their units and is part of the capital stack, or total budget for the project, that is “necessary to make a project of this magnitude work.”

“This project will be the largest development this area has seen and will be a game-changer,” Thomas said in the release.

The redevelopment project has several partners, including the city of Huntington and the state of West Virginia and more, which will be announced at a future groundbreaking event.

In May 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the corporation would receive $462,590 for cleaning up the building. The funding was part of $3.3 million in funding for eight West Virginia brownfields sites.

The Prichard was designed by H. Zeigler Dietz, of Indianapolis. The building had 300 rooms, complete with their own bathroom, which was a rarity at that time. The Prichard was also home to 14 private dining rooms, a restaurant and a ballroom.

Famous guests stayed at the hotel over the years. Singing cowboy Gene Autry checked into the hotel in 1949 when he was in town for a show. In 1956, chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs was an honored hotel guest when the “Today” show came to Huntington. During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy, as well as his wife, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and brother, Ted Kennedy, stayed at the Prichard.

Polan Realty of Huntington purchased the building in 1970 and converted it into offices and apartments. The building joined the National Historic Register in 1986. Thomas said because the project is part of the register, the development will be using Historic Tax Credits. Thomas added that West Virginia is a leader in that front.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering local government in Huntington and Cabell County. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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