Open house begins today
The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority will be host to an open house at Clinton Place Apartments, 2125 Clinton Parkway, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Two years ago, Jacqueline Bari was ready to move out of Clinton Place Apartments.
Rotting siding hung from the sides of the building. Dirty, moldy carpet filled the interior with a stench. And, worst of all, there was a figurative stench, too. The 58-unit apartment complex was rampant with drug activity and alcohol abuse.
“I was a little ashamed to live here,” Bari said.
But before she got her bags packed, the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority purchased the complex, just southwest of the intersection of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.
Over the last two years, the Housing Authority has made $1 million worth of repairs and renovations to the apartments, and has returned the complex to its previous status as a facility for low-income seniors.
“I would have never thought it could look like this,” Bari said.
Barbara Huppee, executive director for the Housing Authority, said the renovation project included replacing all siding, windows and doors on the exterior of the building, and also included replacing the roof. Inside, all flooring, bathroom fixtures, furnaces and hot water heaters were replaced. Plus, space was rearranged to allow for a community kitchen, a new area to host a meals program run by Douglas County Senior Services, and the creation of a computer lab and exercise area. In addition, a fire-sprinkler system was installed throughout the building.
The authority also paid $1.35 million for the property.
The property has been part of a federal subsidized housing program since it was built in the 1980s. But in 2006 it appeared likely that the property would be torn down and turned into some other use that would take advantage of its prime location.
The previous owner of the building, a Leawood investment group, had let the mortgage fall into default, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — which had backed the mortgage — had started foreclosure proceedings.
Huppee’s organization negotiated a sale with the owner just days prior to a foreclosure auction. Huppee said if the property had been auctioned, she’s convinced the new owners would have converted the land into something other than affordable housing.
“It would have been a loss of 58 affordable housing units, and in this community, that would have been significant,” Huppee said.
The Housing Authority owns or manages about 1,200 housing units throughout the county. The authority makes the units available to people who qualify for subsidized housing through various federal programs.
The authority originally had contemplated seeking funding from the city of Lawrence to help pay for the purchase and renovation of the apartments. But ultimately, Huppee said the organization found it could finance and fund the project itself.
Currently, 48 of the 58 one-bedroom apartments in the complex are rented.