Ground broken for Mullen Flats housing
May 25—Mullen Flats, a 42-unit low-income housing project three and a half years in the making, finally received its groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon.
Mental Health America of West Central Indiana Chief Executive Officer Myra Wilkey, who is overseeing the project, said, "It's pretty gratifying — I still can't believe it's true. Three and a half years is a long time to work on a project."
Mullen Flats, a $14.3 million project, will be built at 2750 Elm St., next to Mental Health America's Liberty Village, which serves veterans. The three-story building's first floor will offer a 52-bed emergency center called the Lotus Center.
Before the ground-breaking, Wilkey told those assembled, "We do everything we can to keep people housed."
Mullen Flats is named in honor of Donald Mullen, who served as pastor at First Congregational Church and worked with Mental Health America. He died in 2018.
"He was a longtime board member," Wilkey said. "He helped start the Human Relations Commission. He was an advocate for humankind and did some groundbreaking work with us when we started Unity House and Unity Village."
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, who participated in the ground-breaking, told the crowd that he grew up just a few blocks from the location and that he first connected with Mullen — whom he found inspirational — when he entered politics.
He acknowledged the lengthy process that got Mullen Flats to this point.
"Every project has its hurdles to get through," Bennet said. "But we always persevere as a community."
Andrea Kent of ALK Development, an Indianapolis-based real estate concern that focuses on affordable housing and partnered with Mental Health Indiana on Mullen Flats, said, "I like a ground-breaking more than a ribbon-cutting. It represents movement forward."
The city of Terre Haute has contributed $500,000 to the project, for which construction will begin in a matter of days or weeks. Projects of this size usually require nine to 12 months to complete, though given what the project has been through in the past, any number of issues could delay that timetable.
"We have supply issues, demand issues — it depends on how that goes," Wilkey said. "They've tried to steer that off on the front end so that we don't get into a lot of that."
David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.