Ogden low-income apartments will get a makeover

Sunday , August 10, 2014 - 12:00 AM

OGDEN — In a few weeks, a decades-old apartment complex that houses low-income tenants will undergo a massive facelift.

The 20-unit Garden Grove Apartments near Harrison Boulevard and 23rd Street were erected in the mid-1970s to provide subsidized housing for individuals on restricted incomes.

“The buildings were aging in place. Everything in them had exceeded its useful life,” Annette Peterson, chief operating officer for Kier Property Management, said in a phone interview Friday. Kier manages several properties, including Garden Grove, and has overseen similar remodels at half a dozen other structures.

Last fall, Kier applied to the state for competitive tax credits it could tap to help rehabilitate the units. By year’s end, Kier had received word that the Garden Grove project ranked high enough to qualify for the Section 42 tax credits that subsequently get sold to investors to help lower the overall debt developers incur on such projects. All totaled, Peterson estimated Garden Grove refurbishing costs at about $2.5 million.

“It takes a lot of coordination to bring it to this point,” Peterson said of the complicated, 18- to 24-month process underpinning the 90-day remodel that Kier Construction representatives unveiled to Garden Grove residents Thursday morning.

“Basically we know it’s a big inconvenience, and it’s a difficult process to renovate the units and the property as fully as we do when you’re living here,” Project Manager Roger Nielsen told the tenants, many who are elderly or have disabilities.

“We wish we could move you somewhere else . . . for the duration, because it would make it easier for all of us,” Nielsen told residents, “but we can’t do that. So we try to accomplish all this with you living in your unit.”

It could take up to 10 workdays for crews to refurbish each unit — which includes replacing kitchen cabinets, countertops, appliances, sinks and faucets, bathroom upgrades, along with new light fixtures, plugs, outlets, new paint and floor coverings throughout each apartment.

“The only thing I can think of that you’re not getting replaced inside the units are the interior doors,” Nielsen said.

Exteriors will also get a makeover with new windows, shingles, siding, stucco, and concrete patios. After completion, the units will have central heating and air conditioning and will be much more energy efficient, Nielsen said. In addition, six units will get converted for full accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It will happen fast, and hopefully we’ll be out of your lives and you’ll be able to enjoy your new property,” Nielsen said of the work that should finish by the end of October.

Since February, rumors swirled around the cozy complex that residents — many who have beloved companion pets and nowhere to go during the day — would be displaced and have to fend for themselves until nightfall while work in their units is under way.

A letter handed to residents Thursday asked that they not be in their apartments from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. while crews are working, but Nielsen verbally softened that directive.

“We’re not going to ask you to leave unless we provide a place for you to be,” Nielsen said. “If you’re sitting in a living room chair while we’re working on the kitchen, I think that will be fine.”

On paint days, Nielsen cautioned that they will want to be elsewhere.

Garden Grove resident Cindy Schneider had previously heard that she might have to temporarily board her companion cat at her own expense, an option she said she refused to consider.

“She’s saved my life on many occasions. If anything happens to her, that would be the end of me,” Schneider said of the shy feline she affectionately calls “Baby Girl.”

Nielsen assured her the cat could remain inside the unit during the work, but cautioned that workers would be coming in and out.

“If we know about it, we’ll try to work with it,” Nielsen said. “We don’t want you to incur any expense.”

Diabetic residents expressed concern about having access to food when needed. Kier Regional Property Manager Camille Filiaga said they’ll make accommodations as necessary to take care of those needs.

Kenneth Simmons, 74, has lived at Garden Grove for 9 years and said he enjoys the quiet neighborhood.

“I think it will be nice when it’s done,” Simmons said of the overhaul. “It’s just the inconvenience — but you’ve got to expect that.”

Schneider, 58, said Thursday’s meeting relieved fears that had plagued her for weeks.

“My cat was my main worry because she’s the love of my life. She’ll just hide under the bed” during construction, Schneider said. “A great big load has been lifted off my shoulders . . . I think it’s going to be very nice, and I’m excited.”

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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