2 area apartment complexes being revitalized

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 8/23/2019, 6 a.m.
Two major apartment complexes, one in Richmond and one in Henrico County that largely house lower-income families, are being revitalized.

Two major apartment complexes, one in Richmond and one in Henrico County that largely house lower-income families, are being revitalized.

In Richmond, the once-decaying Flats at Ginter Park, with more than 700 units spread along Chamberlayne Avenue in North Side, has undergone a major facelift.


Richmond Free Press

And shortly, renovation is planned for the St. Luke Apartments, previously known as Essex Village and once labeled the worst complex in Henrico.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney on Monday joined representatives of the new owners of the Flats at Ginter Park, Dwell Richmond LLC and its New York-based parent, EquiShares Inc., to mark the reopening of the 44-building complex headquartered in the 3200 block of Chamberlayne Avenue and renamed Bloom Apartments.

“After extensive renovation,” the mayor tweeted, “the new Bloom will offer quality affordable housing units from $700 to $900” per month.


Richmond Free Press

EquiShares hired Dodson Property Management to handle the improvements. The company has not released cost figures, but officials said the company has invested more than $7 million in upgrades.

EquiShares stepped in last year after city inspectors found extensive decay and condemned many of the buildings as “unfit for human habitation.” Hundreds of tenants had to scramble to find new living quarters.

Ultimately, the Richmond Circuit Court forced the sale last fall of the complex that had been purchased in 2015 by a different New York company, Cedar Grove Partners LLC.

Some tenants, whose buildings were not condemned, already are seeing significant change. Among them is Cassandra Hoyer, who now has sound interior doors and new kitchen appliances.

“It’s like night and day. Before, when something went wrong, you couldn’t get a hold of anyone,” she said. “No one was ever in the office, and there was no one to call. Now there is.”

Meanwhile, SSA/EVI Development of Baltimore appears close to launching renovations to the nearly 500 units at St. Luke Apartments. The company purchased the complex located on Laburnum Avenue near the Richmond Raceway in November 2017.

Maryland-based Hamel Builders is seeking bids from subcontractors for renovation of the government-subsidized apartments. Joe Gauntner of Hamel announced in an advertisement that bids are due Sept. 10.

Mr. Gauntner could not be reached for comment.

To assist with financing, Ernst Valery, managing partner for SSA/EVI Development, has applied to the Virginia Housing Development Authority for $3.49 million in low-interest tax credits that would be coupled with tax-exempt bonds to be issued through the Henrico Economic Development Authority. VHDA is still reviewing the application, spokesman Brian Matt said.

Mr. Valery previously estimated that his company might need to invest up to $60,000 per unit to upgrade the complex. No official estimate of the cost has been released.