Prevalent Geek

Stuff that matters

In Branson, Missouri, an old Days Inn hotel which has been vacant for 8 years has found new life, and been given a noble purpose.

A Los Angeles-based construction company purchased the property, along with other shuttered hotels, fulfilling its mission to turn failing commercial spaces into affordable housing.

The company envisions that these kinds of efficient fixes can help address the low-income housing shortage in the nation today. By breaking through certain walls, they were able to create studio and one-bedroom apartments that would rent for $495-$695—a sweet spot in terms of income brackets, where the individual might not make enough for normal housing, yet not qualify for assistance.

And, these spaces are upgraded with plenty of amenities.

Richard Rubin, founder of Repvblik, started doing these kinds of conversions in his native country of South Africa, and believes the price of the Missouri Days Inn units fall into the perfect price range for those who “might not be poor enough to get subsidized housing.”

But affordable doesn’t mean barren or slumlike, the Days Inn project, known as Plato’s Cave, comes with freshly painted walls, included utilities, a rich assortment of amenities including a gym, basketball court, and onsite laundry, smart tvs, laminated wood floors and air conditioning.

The need for affordable housing is so urgent, not just in states where the lack thereof is famous such as California, but nationwide, that Rubin is trying to push the projects through to success without federal funding, which, as he revealed in a recent article with Fast Company, is something critics of his model believe isn’t possible.

“We were told with this market that it couldn’t be done,” says Rubin. “Everyone said, ‘You can’t do it without low-income housing tax credits,’ which is completely incorrect. You absolutely can.”

Naturally he struggled to find investors to fork over a large check to buy old commercial spaces and sell them as cheap rental properties to higher-risk renters, but good-guy investing is still alive, and Repvblik is now juggling 10 such properties totaling 2,000 units – a number he hopes will grow to 20,000 in a few years.