By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - Back in 2010, the city of Fort Pierce became the owner of five abandoned properties. Now, two years later, they are proud to celebrate the completion of the renovations of two of the larger properties, apartment buildings that were built in the 1920s.
City officials celebrated the recent accomplishment with a ribbon cutting in front of the buildings, located at 1116 and 1122 Orange Ave. in Fort Pierce.
"Both apartment buildings were vacant and the larger of the two was in foreclosure," said Jon Ward, director of urban development for Fort Pierce. "We bought it on short sale from the bank."
The total cost of the renovation for the two buildings was $1.3 million, which included buying the property, architect and engineering fees and all construction costs.
But the project didn't cost residents anything, as it was fully funded from the federal government as part of the Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
"I think the concept that we took in addressing the blighting conditions that the apartments created is unique," Mr. Ward said.
"The restoration has provided a benefit for the entrance to the city, and the state was very congratulatory in our approach to the issue and deemed our project 'exemplary.'"
The federal program provided $2.1 million to the city to purchase the apartment buildings, as well as three single-family homes.
The program helps local governments financially to renovate dilapidated properties and make them available to residents.
The apartment buildings consist of 14 one-bedroom studio apartments, two one-bedroom apartments, and two two-bedroom apartments. The contractors were able to keep the original wood floors in the buildings, and added energy-efficient upgrades, such as impact-resistant windows and new appliances.
Another change to the buildings included combining the front yard into one area with a courtyard and a shared parking lot.
"The apartments in one building are all one-bedroom studios, so they will be perfect for single-client use, or focused on shorter-term housing needs," he said.
"The Neighborhood Stabilization Program required that at least 25 percent of the funds be used for multi-family housing, so the second apartment building more than met that requirement."
The buildings will be overseen by the Fort Pierce Housing Authority.
"The property will be transferred to the Fort Pierce Housing Authority within the next 30 days," Mr. Ward said. "They will maintain and operate the property, and be responsible for the rental to tenants. This project turned out very well."