Parkview Tower celebrates 50th anniversary

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the construction of Parkview Tower, a HUD public housing program. Groundbreaking was done on December 28, 1970, with construction being completed in November of 1971. The Montevideo HRA, established in 1961, initiated the construction of the 81 unit building under a program referred to as the HUD turnkey program, meaning the keys to the building were not turned over to Montevideo HRA until construction was complete.

A photo from the groundbreaking for Parkview Tower in 1970.

Within five days of receiving the key, the HRA had every apartment filled. According to Parkview Tower’s written history, there was only one mover in Montevideo at that time, and the company worked for five days from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily to move sixteen tenants per day into the uniquely designed building. The first tenants were William and Minnie Krueger, both nearly 90 years old.

About that unique design, current Executive Director Carman Mills says one of the most common misconceptions about the building’s design that she hears is that people think the building was supposed to be built in California or Florida. “That’s not true. They purposely built the building the way they did so that it would feel like someone’s home,” says Mills. “They built it purposely so that you would have to go outside to do the things you would like to do.”  The building has no interior hallways, and the apartments are sized the width of the building. The hallways to get around the building are by way of the outside balconies. 

A view of the West Side of Parkview Tower near downtown Montevideo.

The building operates on an income-based rent system. The rent is based on a percentage of the applicant's income - a percent that has changed over the years. In 1972, the percent of adjusted gross income used to calculate rent amounts was 25% but has increased to 30% over the years. Originally, the building was also designated for seniors aged 62 and up, or disabled persons allowed to be 62 or younger. In more recent years, income-eligible applicants over the age of 18 were allowed to rent space in Parkview Tower, with preference given to seniors and disabled applicants. Who lives in Parkview Towers has changed in demographics of distance in addition to age. Originally, the tenants tended to come from a thirty-mile radius of Montevideo, with some coming from farming areas that had no access to running water or indoor plumbing. Over the years, applicants flowed in from all over the United States. Mills says many of those with plans to move to Montevideo to be closer to family.

Other things have changed over the 50 years as well. In the beginning, the tenants cared for themselves mostly without outside services, but as aging in place has become an idea that took hold amongst the aging community, decisions were made to provide home healthcare services for residents who need it. Additionally, a plan implementing the delivery of meals through Prairie 5’s Senior Dining Program was put into place for weekdays.

The building itself has undergone improvements over the years including upgrades to the mechanical equipment, roof, windows, and additional parking spaces being added. Each unit inside has been renovated within the last 20 years including changing some of the single occupancy units into double occupancy units, bringing the number of units from 81 to 58. The building also became a smoke-free property in 2009. “Next year we are looking at painting the balconies and putting a surfacing on the balcony floors for a little touch-up,” says Mills. 

Each year, the tenants enjoy a holiday meal together, however because of the pandemic, last year and this year will see a virtual tenant dinner. They have a five-member Resident Advisory Committee that meets monthly to address any issues and events. Parkview Towers has been at capacity since Mills began in 2013 and usually has a waiting list.  While COVID is preventing any kind of in-person celebration of the anniversary this year, Mills says they do have plans to commemorate the occasion with merchandise and some other ideas.