$15M project approved to rebuild 70 Allentown apartments

By - Last modified: April 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

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The Allentown Housing Authority has received approval of its plan to renovate 70 apartments, a reconstruction project that will pump millions into the regional economy.

The $15.4 million project at Cumberland Gardens is the second of three phases that ultimately will renovate the entire 200-unit public housing complex.

“It’s a gut rehab of the unit,” Daniel Farrell, executive director of the Housing Authority, said this morning in a phone interview. “Essentially, they take the unit down to the outside walls, remove the interior finishes and everything; then reconstruct them.”

The budget includes about $8.5 million worth of construction – an average of $121,000 per unit – while the remaining funds are for acquisition, fees and required reserves, Farrell said. The authority also could borrow money to help pay for the upgrades and renovations.

“Because it’s a tax credit, the partnership actually buys the building, so the tax credit owns the building; the physical land,” Farrell said. “We’re working with Pennrose Properties [of Philadelphia]. They’ll form an ownership entity.

“We’ll maintain the project going into the future, so the residents won’t see a whole lot of difference, except for the dramatic improvement to the property,” Farrell said. “The management will stay the same.”

Construction is planned to begin in October.

“It should take about a year or two to complete,” Farrell said. “Hopefully by September or October of 2015, we’ll be putting residents back into the apartments.”

The authority’s $15.1 million first-phase renovation of 74 apartments at Cumberland Gardens occurred in 2011-12.

A third phase of about 56 remaining units also is planned. If approved next spring, construction would begin roughly in October 2014 and be completed about a year or two later, Farrell explained.

“It would probably be in the ballpark of a $12 million deal,” Farrell said of the cost of the third phase of the project.

 

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