August 05, 2003 11:00 pm

Twin Firs Retirement Center is moving its clients to other area centers and closing its doors today.

The center at 2109 Third St. has been in business for eight years, owner Judy Nitz said.

She had 22 clients until she started moving them to other facilities a few days ago. Normally, she had between 22 and 26 residents.

Nitz, who is selling the building to Steve and Debbie Votaw, said the reason for closing was because "expenses have kept going up the last two years. As a small business, I just couldn't keep going.

"Since 9/11, insurance costs have skyrocketed. There's no way I could raise my costs to individual clients to cover that. A bigger company could absorb such an increase, but I can't."

Nitz said she plans to retire.

The new owners of the building plan to turn it into rental housing, targeting students and young adults. The building will be called the "3rd Street Station.''

"We will have 17 rooms for rent," said Debbie Votaw. "They are mostly double-occupancy, but there are a couple of triples that we hope to use as a hostel. Some rooms will be suitable for a single mom or a single dad. But mostly it will be for off-campus housing," Votaw said.

With a commercial kitchen at the site, the new owners plan to offer a meal plan with three meals a day and brunch on weekends.

After minor upgrades, they hope to be open by Sept. 1, with the meal plan in place by Sept. 7, Votaw said.

They plan to add a breakfast bar, a "little store" to sell such items as school supplies, drinks, vending machine items, maybe sandwiches. There will be a coin-operated laundry.

The Votaws' son, Josh, is a co-owner in the project. Daughter Ashley will run the kitchen and serve as on-site manager.

The Votaws have other rentals in the area and operate under the business name of Roads End Properties.

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