Delray Beach, FL, September 03, 2010 --(PR.com
)-- On a hot July morning, Margarette Lee decided to stay home in her refurbished apartment just off West Atlantic Avenue, even though she had plenty of errands to run.
“I love it here,” said the 62-year-old lifelong Delray Beach resident, sitting in her new kitchen as central air conditioning cooled her freshly painted two-bedroom apartment. “Why would I want to be anywhere else?”
Many residents of Palm Manor Apartments on Southwest Ninth Avenue have asked the same question since the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) began gutting and renovating the 25-unit rental complex earlier this year.
Once an eyesore, the complex built in the early 1960s now stands as an inviting and affordable place to live on a block being planned for a major redevelopment project.
The two-bedroom apartments are renting for $825 a month, well below the Palm Beach County average of $1,229 a month, according to the CRA.
“We want to be responsive to the needs of the community,” said Elizabeth Butler, the CRA’s marketing and grants coordinator. “We’re eliminating blight and creating quality, affordable rental units at the same time.”
Years ago, the first block of Southwest Ninth Avenue was plagued by drug dealers, blighted homes, and a sense of hopelessness. Today, the troublemakers are gone and problem properties are razed, leaving the restored Palm Manor Apartments as the block’s main presence.
CRA officials are envisioning a multi-story retail/office/residential complex next to the apartments on a large swath of vacant land fronting West Atlantic Avenue.
Construction workers from Carrick Contracting Corp. are still renovating two of the three Palm Manor Apartments buildings, which are owned by the CRA and managed by Delray Beach Community Land Trust. The crews are redoing the roofs, remodeling kitchens, upgrading bathrooms, adding central air conditioning, and enhancing landscaping, said Walt Gerhard, the CRA’s project manager.
The CRA has set aside nearly $1 million for the project designed by JMWA Architects. The agency also operates two other affordable apartment complexes: the nine-unit Carolyn Quince Courts on Northwest Fifth Avenue and the 14-unit La France Apartments on Northwest Fourth Avenue.
For residents of Palm Manor Apartments like Lee, the renovated units have created a community that never existed in the old apartments. Neighbors chat in the shade-covered courtyards filled with palm trees, shrubbery and benches. They help each other with babysitting and grocery shopping.
The new laundry rooms also mean residents no longer need to travel across town to wash their clothing.
“We all know each other and get along very nicely,” said Lee, who moved into the complex after her home was badly damaged by Hurricane Wilma. She and her 29-year-old son relocated into one of the new apartments earlier this summer.
“The difference in apartments here is day and night,” she said. For rental information, contact the Delray Beach Community Land Trust at 561-243-7500 or visit their website at www.delraylandtrust.org.