UNIVERSITY AREA – The Pines One 16-unit apartment facility at 11720 14th St. for low- and moderate-income families could fittingly be described as a pigsty.
Leaky roofs caused mold to collect on the inner walls, a problem that was compounded by faulty air conditioners and humidity-drawing substandard windows and doors.
The worn and dingy looking kitchen cabinets were falling down, and chipped and missing pieces in the dilapidated linoleum flooring was both an eyesore and a hazard.
The paint was badly cracked on the outside of the buildings, the chain-link fencing was in dire disrepair and landscaping on the property was almost nonexistent.
“It was a pain,” said Dan Jurman, executive director and CEO of the University Area Community Development Corporation, who along with his staff strives to improve the area’s many blighted neighborhoods and the lives of those who live there.
But Jurman’s nagging discomfort about that property is a thing of the past.
In 2012, the UACDC purchased the property and, thanks to a grant through Hillsborough County’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the complex has undergone a complete transformation.
The $1.08 million rehabilitation project included roofing, mold removal, cabinets, tile floors, energy efficient appliances and tightly sealed hurricane-resistant windows and doors in each 750-square-foot, two-bedroom dwelling.
The complex also was repainted inside and out. In addition, its fencing was repaired the courtyard was rejuvenated with sodding and shrubbery.
The complex also was renamed The Golden Palms Apartments.
Jurman, County Commissioner Les Miller, Hillsborough County Affordable Housing officials and Chloe Coney, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s district director, recently celebrated its grand re-opening with a ribbon cutting and tour of the facility.
“We now have a place where people can be proud to live and be safe,” Jurman said. “It’s a microcosm of what we do – we dig in and make it happen.”
Miller called the renovation a testament to the county’s efforts to meet the needs of affordable housing for area residents.
“Anything that is going to help people have a decent place to live is well worth the cost,” he said. “It’s my desire that they cherish and maintain this beautiful place and it is also my hope that we can bring hope and jobs to this area.”
Coney concurred, calling it a “great day.”
“Today we are seeing a turnaround in the community and we want that to continue so people have an opportunity to grow and to thrive,” she said.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.