A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the hyped program to fix apartments on Broadway that didn't fix any apartments on Broadway. According to Richard Celli, director of the city's Housing and Community Development Department, the $35 million was used in other parts of the city to rehab deteriorating apartments, creating "class A properties at class C rents."
Hair Balls got a list of those properties, and out of the seven projects that were funded, only one is complete. At the two complexes that received the lesser amount of money (about $1.3 million combined), little, if any, work has been done.
To the city's credit, the project that is finished -- formerly Fondren Court and pictured at the top of this post -- appears to be quality housing. A couple other places left us scratching our head.
For example, Sunflower Terrace, near Cullen and Bellfort in south Houston, is a $3.14 million project that Celli said was about 75 percent finished. The complex used to be vacant, and 68 of the 160 units are now full. The empty buildings, however, look a long way from complete, and considering there was one person working on Wednesday, it doesn't appear to be a high priority.
Another project is the Bray's Crossing complex, a renovation of the old Houtex Inn, just off the I-45 feeder at Griggs Road. (In April, a construction worker died and two more were injured at the site after one of the buildings collapsed.) The city has close to $10 million invested in this project, and New Hope Housing, which secured $3 million from the city for another rehab, is the developer. (Two of New Hope's directors show up on Mayor White's campaign finance reports, but that shouldn't shock anyone.) The deadline for the work at Bray's Crossing is March 5 of next year, according to the project foreman.
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Sunflower Terrace was already vacant, so for the money being spent, we're not sure why it wasn't torn down and rebuilt, and Bray's Crossing is a horrible location for an apartment complex. Still, the most perplexing part is the amount of time it's taking to complete all these projects. Since the whole thing was announced in 2005, only one project, albeit nice, is complete.
During the same time, the city awarded $26.5 million in tax credits for developers to build affordable housing complexes from scratch. All eight of those projects are complete, with another $10 million project about 90 percent done.
Celli tells Hair Balls that rehabbing apartments takes longer than new construction, especially if residents have to be relocated like they did at the Reserve at Bankside, but it's also cheaper. He adds that each project is on schedule. Below is a map of the rehab projects, with cost and developer information included.
View Apartment Rehab Projects in a larger map