Affordable housing villas undergo rehabilitation

SERENITY NOW — This is part of the Orange City Flats subsidized apartment complex off Enterprise Road, which underwent a complete renovation during the past six months or so.

SERENITY NOW — This is part of the Orange City Flats subsidized apartment complex off Enterprise Road, which underwent a complete renovation during the past six months or so.

BEACON PHOTOS/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

OFFICIALLY OPEN — Cutting a ribbon to officially open Orange City Flats after extensive renovations of the 96-unit complex are, from left, Regional Manager Ken Shaw and President Rusty Fleming of American Apartment Management Co. Inc., Elizabeth Whitaker of USDA Rural Development, and Shane P. Sarver of Trent Development Group.

OFFICIALLY OPEN — Cutting a ribbon to officially open Orange City Flats after extensive renovations of the 96-unit complex are, from left, Regional Manager Ken Shaw and President Rusty Fleming of American Apartment Management Co. Inc., Elizabeth Whitaker of USDA Rural Development, and Shane P. Sarver of Trent Development Group.

After months of rehabilitation, 96 one- and two-bedroom, rent-subsidized apartments in Orange City have been unveiled with new roofs, interior and exterior upgrades, and a new name.

What for many years was known as The Villas of Orange City was renamed Orange City Flats last September, just before renovations began. A ribbon-cutting for the like-new apartments was held earlier this week.

The work was a joint venture between American Apartment Management Co. Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee, which has been managing the units at 2515-2555 Enterprise Road since 2009 and owned them since 2011, and Trent Development Group of Nashville, Tennessee, said Ken Shaw, a regional manager for the Knoxville company.

“We got low-income tax credit funding from [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] for the rehabilitation work,” Shaw said. “It included new roofs that were extended over enlarged patios and a lot of energy-saving stuff. … They’re very nice, and the renovations put them back into really good shape.”

The work entailed updating and renovating the 35-year-old complex and a community center. No residents were forced out while the renovations were being done, Shaw said.

“It took some coordination [between the workers and the residents], but no relocations,” he said.

Marie Collins, who has managed the community for almost 15 years, expanded on what was done.

Exterior work on all the buildings included metal roofs, new siding, and putting ceiling fans over the expanded patios, she said. All the interiors got new flooring, ceiling fans in every room, energy-efficient appliances and air conditioners, and replacement doors and windows.

The renovations were so extensive, it seemed as if every unit was rebuilt.

“It really did,” she said.

The Villas originally was built in two phases — in 1979 (60 single-story units) and in 1981 (36 more) — using a program through the USDA that is similar to Section 8 housing in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD’s housing programs tend to be used in more densely populated areas, Shaw said, while the USDA Rural Development Service focuses on less urbanized areas.

Collins said that definitely included Orange City at that time.

“There was very little on this [Enterprise] road at that time,” she said. “Lots of trees.”

In the USDA program, residents must be at least 62 years of age or disabled and meet certain income requirements. They pay no more than 30 percent of their income in rent, with the balance covered by the USDA, Shaw explained.

“It’s a really good program,” he said. “And the subsidy stays with the property, not the resident, so when a resident leaves, the next one can get the subsidy.”

But while most apartment complexes tend to have high turnover rates, Orange City Flats does not — much to the dismay of hundreds of would-be residents who are on a yearslong waiting list, Shaw said.

“If I have eight people move out in a year, it’s a bad year,” Collins agreed. “I have a very long waiting list, with a minimum [wait] of five years and more like seven.”

— Joe Crews, joe@beacononlinenews.com

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