A four-story building offering several dozen units of rental housing for seniors in downtown Eagle River is preparing to open its doors.
The building, called Coronado Park Senior Village, is being touted as an energy-efficient independent-living option for seniors near the heart of Eagle River. It was developed by Cook Inlet Housing Authority, a nonprofit organization that owns and operates more than 1,000 units of rental housing in the Anchorage area.
Monthly rents for the 56 fully accessible units range from $650 for a 544-square-foot efficiency studio to between $830 and $1,135 for a two-bedroom unit. Tenants can begin moving in Aug. 16.
A solar thermal heating system providing up to 50 percent of the building’s hot water is expected to reduce natural gas use by 10 percent and is the largest alternative energy source of any residential building in Alaska, officials said.
At 16820 Coronado St., the building fits into Cook Inlet’s larger Coronado Park development, which offers multifamily rentals and for-sale condos just to the south. Cook Inlet Housing Authority has placed strong emphasis on the multigenerational aspect of the development and the option for seniors to live in the same neighborhood as young families and children.
“This is a place where everyone can choose to live, and extended families can live in the very same neighborhood,” Carol Gore, president and CEO of Cook Inlet Housing Authority, said at a Thursday ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the senior facility. The Coronado Park development is the nonprofit organization’s first in Eagle River.
The senior housing portion of the project cost $16.5 million, funded through a combination of federal tax credits, state grant funds and a contribution by the Rasmuson Foundation. It took several years to plan, finance and build, and involved scores of meetings with the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, Gore said. The four-story structure is the tallest building in downtown Eagle River. While most Cook Inlet housing projects incorporate bright colors, the Eagle River development has been designed in more subtle hues to blend in with traditional designs in the surrounding community, Gore said.
More broadly, the building's 56 units represent “some small steps” toward the goal of providing housing for the state's fast-growing senior population, Gore said.
The growth rate for Alaska's seniors is the highest in the United States. The Alaska Commission on Aging has projected the senior population will grow 7 percent annually in the Anchorage area, which translates into 100,000 more Alaskans over age 60 by 2025.
At 7 a.m. on the first day Cook Inlet began taking applications for the new units, a long line extended out the front door of the office building. Gore said 81 applications have been received so far, with about 35 percent of applicants already living in Chugiak-Eagle River.
The opening of Coronado Park Senior Village brings the number of senior housing units owned by Cook Inlet Housing Authority to 475, including the 400 units in the Centennial Village senior housing campus off Peck Avenue in Muldoon. Two properties planned for the Mountain View and Russian Jack neighborhoods will also incorporate senior housing components.
Coronado Park Senior Village is mixed-income, meaning residents pay rents based on what they can afford. Rental prices range from market rate to rates for those making less than 60 percent of the area median income, a threshold set by the federal government.
On Thursday, guests walked through sliding glass doors and took the stairs or the elevator to the upper floors, where four different apartments were being showcased.
In the next few weeks, Don and Kathy Frederick will move into their new two-bedroom apartment on the second floor. The retired couple moved to Eagle River from Arkansas three years ago to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Since coming to Alaska, the Fredericks have lived with their children, alternating between homes. They said the local rental market has limited options for seniors.
But the two-bedroom apartment at Coronado Park Senior Village, with a parking space, will cost them $1,095 a month.
“For being that price, you can’t beat it,” said Don Frederick, 60.
Two-bedroom units at the Coronado Park Senior Village were still available Thursday, Cook Inlet officials said. Those interested can visit Cook Inlet’s website  or call 793-3000 for more information.