Editor’s note: Following the recent three-part AJC survey seriesthe deplorable state of several apartment complexes around the city of Atlanta have been talked about. Two rental communities adjoin the Glenrose Heights neighborhood about six miles (6 miles) south of downtown Atlanta near the airport stories can be a source of hope and a model of viable and affordable housing born out of dire circumstances.
Audrea Rease, a partner of TriStar Real Estate Investment, has led the transformation of living conditions for approximately 800 people living on the south side of the city. In a letter to her forthcoming editor provided to Urbanize Atlanta, she discusses the difficult challenges her own team faced and how she ultimately created two dangerous communities. It describes how it was successful.
A lot of recent news has rightly focused on the dire situation of several multifamily housing communities around this city.
Thankfully, there are affordable housing success stories. These are important to share on their own, but also because they can serve as catalysts for other leaders in the public, private, or non-profit sphere.
In June 2018, our real estate investment firm purchased the Springview and Summerdale apartments off Cleveland Avenue in Atlanta. The property, previously owned by an absentee landlord living abroad, was in a horrible state of disrepair and neglect. They were the epitome of “dangerous dwellings.”
In Springview, 92 of the 144 homes were offline and uninhabitable, but many squatters lived in some of the dilapidated homes. Many buildings had collapsed roofs and were overgrown with kudzu and weeds. They were destroyed and badly damaged by theft and exposure to the elements. In addition, there was a large amount of garbage and debris scattered around the premises.
The entrance gate did not work and the perimeter fence had been torn down in places to allow free access for all vehicles and pedestrians. And that traffic flooded in to buy drugs and participate in other illegal activities. In fact, Springview and its sister facility across the street, Summerdale, had an infamous reputation as regional hubs for drugs and crime.
Somerdale, which had 100 units as of June 2018 and was mostly leased, was largely uninhabitable. Some tenants lived without air conditioning for years and were dealing with other serious maintenance issues that were never addressed.
Both Summerdale and Springview had established cockroach and rodent infestations, with some units experiencing bedbugs. The crimes that characterize Springview and Summerdale included 490 911 calls in 2017 alone, of which 275 were violent crimes. Gunfights were rampant and children were quarantined indoors for their safety when they were out of school.
Crime from these communities spilled into surrounding areas and spread to other hotspots, resulting in frequent lockdowns at Cleveland Avenue Elementary School. Needless to say, Summerdale and Springview were well known to the Atlanta Police Department.
Today, the Summerdale and Springview apartments are very different than they were before they were purchased and restored. Crime he has decreased by more than 90%. After a multi-million dollar renovation, all offline aging units have been refurbished and leased.
Maintenance work orders are currently active on both properties. The streets approaching the property have trees planted by Trees Atlanta volunteers. Children play outside on a playground built in partnership with nonprofits Star-C, KaBoom, and the CarMax Foundation. (Star C We offer wraparound services such as community events, free onsite afterschool, and ongoing summer camps. )
All the while, rents have been kept affordable for those who earn about 45% of area median income, including 74 offered by Atlanta Housing’s HomeFlex program. Utopia is nowhere to be found, but the transformation of these communities is so dramatic that it was recently featured in his five-part series on local newscasts.
So how did you do that? Well maintained and affordable housing, partnerships and of course capital commitments.
Our goal is to provide well-maintained, affordable housing that families want to live in. This commitment has helped us overcome obstacles during acquisition, obstacles in the city’s permit process during renovations, and challenges from criminals who don’t want their property changed.
These criminals try to maintain a steady stream of customers and constantly damage gates and fences to allow people to drive or drive through. They continued to work blatantly between our facility and a nearby gas station until we were able to move them out of the facility. A drug dealer remained as a phantom tenant who lived there.
When landlords lack commitment and start ignoring their property in this way, they need to be addressed through strong code enforcement.
It’s taken the proverbial village of business, local government, and non-profit partners. Affiliated property management companies are at the forefront of property transformation. After the acquisition, we hired 24/7 security guards, installed security cameras, and partnered with APD for community meetings.
There are currently three police officers living on the scene. We have partnered with a nearby school for Star-C’s wraparound service. And Atlanta Housing’s HomeFlex units help keep the price affordable. Many other nonprofits and businesses are joining the story. The value of public-private-nonprofit partnerships cannot be stressed enough.
And none of this was free. Our real estate investment firm uses social impact funds, traditional bank loans, Invest Atlanta housing opportunity bonds, his 0% interest loan from a local foundation, and the Fannie Mae loan to finance these transactions. increase.
Today, approximately 760 people live in these facilities, with a total of 244 renovated units. We consider each house to be one family, and there are also detached houses where multi-generational families live..
The renovation of these communities has been done by placing tenants. There was no process for tenants to move, move out, and then be allowed back into the property. (Recall that 92 of Springview’s 144 units were vacant.) We embarked on the renovation process with the guiding principle of trying to retain as many “legacy tenants” as possible and was able to realize Families of legal workers were not evicted.
A landlord looking to renovate a problematic property needs money, and property operations often cannot cover these unusual costs. Where prudent, we ask local governments and other funders to consider ways to make the modification or transfer of these assets financially feasible.
The rebuilding of these once perilous dwellings has been a long and difficult road, with many unforeseen challenges along the way. But our story shows that community transformation is possible with commitment, partnership and capital. We hope other landlords, municipalities, businesses and nonprofits will use our example to make a difference.
Audrea Rease is a partner of TriStar Real Estate Investment, a commercial real estate investment firm. TriStar Real Estate Investment operates a social her impact fund that addresses temporary problems and improves education through affordable housing. She is also Executive Director of Star-C, a non-profit sustainable education model that provides affordable housing solutions.
• Image: How an Atlanta project with a furnished $1,000 apartment came to life (Urbanization of Atlanta)