New Elizabeth Apartments owner plans to attract young people
ALTOONA -- The Elizabeth Apartments building was popular with young couples in the 1920s, and now new high-end apartments are geared toward the same age group almost a century later.
"It's a very different feel. Instead of going with all the really small rooms, we opened them up to make open concept so it feels much bigger now," Laura Wray said.
Wray's father owned the building for 30 years, and it's been empty since 2011.
She said she was nervous about asking her father if she could take on a renovation project inside the building, but he was excited about it.
Some young people in Altoona think it's difficult to find decent housing within the city limits.
Tori Liebal is the Blair County Chamber of Commerce's vice president of web development and social media. She works with the Young Professionals of Blair County, a networking group, to connect people who have just started out in the workforce.
Liebal knows from personal experience how hard it can be to find a place to live in Altoona.
"I just graduated from Penn State last year, and my fiance and I were looking for a place to live. There are not a ton of places to rent around here," she said.
Wray said Leibal's age group is her target.
"Young professionals is probably our primary market, but also we see empty-nesters, or people looking to downsize without necessarily downgrading," she said.
Liebal said young professionals in the area are tempted to move to a bigger city like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh for more job opportunities, more housing options and more city living.
"There's also this trend where younger people aren't buying houses right away. They want to live in an apartment because they're all about experiences. They're OK with renting an apartment, and spending their money on trips or to go out with their friends. They're not as worried about settling down and buying a house," she said.
Wray also has expanded her renovations beyond the walls of the Elizabeth Apartments. She recently closed on a parking lot across the street next to a Stamps shop, which she said she plans to turn into new parking spaces and a green space.
Wray said she plans to begin to rent in November, and the building offers one or two-bedroom apartments.