New names and $90,000,000 look likely for the acqusition, rebranding and rehab of four of Jacksonville’s most troubled low-income housing developments, which contain 768 units total.
Jacksonville City Council resolution 2017-671 would authorize $90,000,000 in Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority bonds to “finance, acquire, rehab & equip four Multifamily Rental Housing Developments.”
With the new money would come a new nomenclature, one that perhaps will help re-brand these properties for media members new to the market.
400-unit Eureka Gardens, 94-unit Moncrief Village, 74-unit Southside Apartments & 200-unit Washington Heights would be known as Valencia Way, Estuary Estates, Oyster Pointe and Charlesfort Commons, respectively.
There is no indication in the bill why these particular names were chosen.
The money could add up to over $117,000 per unit, a number that exceeds the median house price in some of the neighborhoods that contain them.
This would close the book completely on the troubled tenure of Global Ministries Foundation, which acquired these properties via a bond process that sidestepped the oversight of JHFA.
Mayor Alvin Brown “bypassed the normal approval process through the city council and went directly to the mayor for approval” for financing, asserted Tripp Gulliford of the JHFA.
As WJXT reported, $3,000 a unit was all GMF had allocated for remediation of problems that had accumulated over decades.
Sen. Marco Rubio brought national attention to conditions at GMF property Eureka Garden in 2015 and 2016, using words like “unlivable … horrifying and inexcusable” to describe what he and staffers experienced.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry established a comfort level quickly with the new property owners, Millennia Housing Management.
Mayor Curry was impressed particularly by the company’s CEO saying his standard for rental properties was “would I live in properties I own.”
Millennia has pledged significant resources to facility rehabilitation in the past, as a 2014 tax incentive application makes clear.
In acquiring a 160-unit Section 8 complex in upstate New York, the company pledged to spend $8.8 million on the “soft costs” of renovation. Pro-rated, this comes out to $55,000 a unit, as the company vowed to address a “multitude of capital needs” for the apartments, including kitchen and bathroom renovation and installing new windows.
These needs exist at these rundown, mid 20th Century properties, which have also featured threats to public safety — including but by no means limited to faulty air conditioning, mold in units, and gas leaks that have required evacuation.