Jeremy Ratliff

This summer has been a busy time for the Merrill Housing Authority.

Thursday afternoon, Merrill Housing Authority director Paul Russell announced yet another endeavor by the organization, settling into their new home at the former First Weber Realty building at 101 E. First St.

The statewide real estate group vacated their former location effective May 1.

As Russell explains, not long after First Weber relocated to their present location at 100 S. Mill Street, the location of the vacant building caught his attention.

“I happened to be driving by the building one day early this summer and I saw the ‘For Sale or Lease’ sign,” he explains. “The building caught my interest and I decided to look into it as a possible centralized office for the Housing Authority. With all the plans we have in the works for expansion, we were interested in the idea of additional office space.

“First and foremost, the location was ideal for us as it is right between our two largest facilities in Park Place and Jenny Towers.”

Russell soon made contact with property owner Gary Hartwig and by the first week of July, an agreement had been reached to utilize the location as a centralized office and headquarters for the newly renamed Merrill Area Housing Authority.
“In June, the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to change our title from ‘Merrill Housing Authority’ to ‘Merrill Area Housing Authority’,” Russell explains. “Our tenant base spans the entire county and our region of the state. We have set our residency preferences to give Merrill residents priority, followed by other Lincoln County residents within a 52-mile radius of Merrill. Once we have served our local residents, we will focus on other state residents who have expressed an interest with us.”

Relocation began last week and Russell hopes for the transition to be complete as of Aug. 19.
“This transition will better serve our organization in two ways,” Russell adds. “Our staff has expanded recently to eight members, and until now those staff members were crammed into two offices at Park Place. This expansion will not only allow us to offer more comfortable work space for our staff, but we will now be able to better accommodate the large meetings which lie ahead, for the planning and construction of our planned expansion.”

“We are very excited to say the least,” Russell adds with a chuckle.

The organization’s property coordinator and maintenance staff will remain on-site at Park Place, according to Russell.

The new 2,550-square -foot central headquarters of the Merrill Area Housing Authority includes four spacious office areas as well as meeting space overlooking the Prairie River.

Russell encourages community members to visit the all new interactive Housing Authority website at

“I would like to thank Invizon Web Design for their assistance in developing our new website,” Russell adds. “They are a new business here in town and they have just been fantastic in helping us.”