Several upcoming housing projects will look to provide second-story housing opportunities in downtown Fremont with help from the Dodge County Investment Fund (DCIF).

During a press conference on Monday, Murray Property Management, LLC announced its plans to renovate three buildings in downtown Fremont to provide opportunities for second-story housing in the historical district.

The press conference was held in the old Northwest Bell Telephone Building at 630 N. Park Avenue, which is one of the three buildings being renovated into apartment and office space.

“This project specifically and the other two that were a part of this funding are going to mark the first four or five housing units we are going to be doing in downtown Fremont,” Oscar Duran of Black Sailboat Consulting Group said during the press conference.

The other two projects include renovations to the Fremont House at 631 N. Park Avenue and the building which formerly housed Fia + Belle at 84 W. Sixth Street.

All three projects received funding from the recently established Dodge County Investment Fund (DCIF), which acts as a revolving loan fund to spur workforce housing projects throughout Dodge County.

The DCIF was established by the Greater Fremont Development Council in 2018 and was initially funded through $1.03 million in contributions from area businesses and government entities as well as an $850,000 matching grant from the State of Nebraska through the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund.

The state’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund was created with the passage of the State Legislatures’ LB518 in 2017.

“For us and our team here it’s a great honor to be here and to see these projects actually happening,” Dave Rippe, director of the Department of Economic Development, said at the press conference.

The three downtown housing projects received $685,000 in gap financing from the DCIF revolving loan fund. The projects are currently in the design phase.

Duran says the projects are the first step in an effort to revitalize vacant and under-utilized buildings in downtown Fremont by creating second-floor housing opportunities for local residents.

“I know this has been a rich conversation for more than two decades of how do we do it?” he said. “The big way we do it with my firm is we really get personal and trust building relationships with partners and then we make small measurable goals. So, focusing on these first four or five housing units is what we are going to do.”

Duran added that his consulting group has partnered with two other local developers to potentially develop three or four housing units in downtown Fremont in coming years.

The Murray Property Management projects are the latest to receive a loan from the DCIF. The DCIF’s first-funded project is the Morningside Crossing apartment complex which received a $1 million loan from the fund.

Morningside Crossing is being developed by Pure Properties, LLC and will be located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 275 and Morningside Road across from Fremont Contract Carriers and Eagle Distributing. The mixed-use development is planned to be completed in three phases including a first phase 108-unit apartment complex and eventually totaling 300 units.