Gardenia Gardens getting a major facelift
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
Gardenia Gardens Apartments is receiving a $6.5 million makeover, thanks to funds from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, a federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.
Nathaniel Orange of Orange Realty in Jacksonville, managing agent of the housing complex owned by Mount Carmel Baptist Church in east Gainesville, said the Gardenia Gardens Board of Directors decided five years ago to remodel the apartments for the first time since they were built in 1968.
"We applied for funding every year thereafter and was finally approved for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in June 2012," Orange wrote in an email.
An invitation-only ground-breaking event will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 26 at Mount Carmel at 2505 NE 8th Ave.
Orange said the project began in January and is expected to be completed in three phases by December. Construction is ongoing at Building A, which faces NE 8th Avenue.
During the renovation, residents are being housed in unoccupied units at the complex. "The waiting list was closed in July 2012 and sufficient vacancies have accumulated through normal turnover attrition," Orange wrote.
Built for slightly more than $1 million, the complex at 1727 NE 8th Ave. was the first Federal Housing Administration Rent Supplemental Housing project in the Gainesville area.
Gardenia consists of 100 units — 36 two-bedroom and 64 three-bedroom units — and sits on 8.15 acres. The complex is comprised of nine two-story apartment buildings, a leasing/community room building, a laundry/storage building and a maintenance building. Edward Niblack is the on-site manager and Miquisha Scott is the assistant manager.
The project will include renovating the apartments inside and out. Also, the leasing/community room building will be renovated and a laundry room will be added with a separate entrance. The project also will include new signage and an overhaul of the landscaping.
The general contractor is CORE Construction Co. and the co-developer is Beneficial Communities, both of Sarasota. Beneficial Communities invests in and develops affordable housing and has completed projects in more than 20 states. John Lake of the city of Gainesville permits department confirmed that CORE has pulled permits for the project. According to Orange, all of the subcontractors will be local businesses.
The board of directors wants the project to maintain the original appearance of the apartments, so the only change in appearance will be to the leasing/community room.
The project will comply with Green Building codes and will include such energy features as Energy Star ratings for the windows, programmable thermostats in each unit, Water Sense-certified dual flush toilets and eco-friendly cabinets.
The Rev. Dr. N Lamonte Newsome, pastor of Mount Carmel, said providing tenants at Gardenia with the best living conditions possible is very important to the church.
"This remodeling project is important to the church because this development has been there for quite a while, and in order for us to continue to keep a high level of housing equal to where we would want to live ourselves, we had to renovate and update our present facilities," Newsome said. "We want our tenants to have the same kind of housing we would expect to have for ourselves."
Andrew Mickle Sr., a deacon at Mount Carmel and chairman of the Gardenia Board of Directors, said the apartments are evidence of the "humanitarian spirit" at Mount Carmel. He also said the renovations are very much needed.
"I think providing quality affordable housing is just as important today as it was more than 40 years ago when Dr. (T.A.) Wright (the church's pastor emeritus) had the vision to build affordable housing in east Gainesville," Mickle said. "We think it is very important to keep the apartments up to par with other apartments in the market, and we want our residents to have the same quality of living as anybody else."
Mickle said the church also has plans to build affordable housing for senior citizens in east Gainesville, something that will allow the church to have an impact on the entire population of east Gainesville. He said the church currently has a "Saturday school" program for students in grades K-5 and allows teens to play basketball in the gym.
"We don't have a time frame for the senior citizens' project, but it is in our plans," Mickle said. "When it is complete, we will have something for all ages of people who live in east Gainesville."