Our most troubled housing complex, Citrus Grove, is being improved.
I am happy to report that Citrus Grove is making a comeback. The new owner, city, and police have worked together to make real improvements to property and conditions for the residents.
The owner immediately met with the tenants and learned their priorities. As a result, first he redid the laundry facilities so there are now sufficient washers and dryers to handle the needs of the community. Then, the roofs were all replaced. The apartments all received central heat and air conditioning for the first time. Heat in the winter is not a luxury!
Public safety was the next area addressed. The owner installed an 8 foot wrought iron fence to prevent drug dealers from using the southern corner of the property. Additional lighting eliminated the dark corners where bad things happened. The police arrested and the owner evicted a few, bad tenants.
The results are positive for the residents of Citrus, but also for the Campbell Park neighborhood and John Hopkins Middle School across the street. Finally, I was able to get the police to put a camera in Campbell Park to allow the police better protect the children who use one of the city's nicest parks.
ORIGINAL POST 2009.
After Paris Hamilton-Whitehead was killed in 2009, I began digging into the problems at Citrus Grove apartments on MLK Dr S. next to Campbell Park. I have worked with HUD, a lawyer with Gulf Coast Legal Services and city staff to get new on-site management and improved police presense there. Several months ago, an opportunity came with State funds available to an experienced public housing rehabilitation company for a total rehab of the 88 units. Ironically, the Board of Citrus Grove agreed to sell the complex on the same day that Officer Crawford was killed by a 16 year old resident of the complex.
I am continuing to stay plugged in as the sale proceeds in an effort to be sure that the great majority of good people of Citrus Grove finally get decent housing and that the criminals are evicted. The State of Florida is involved and providing rehab funds which means that it will happen at the speed of government - that is slowly. It is critical that I stay involved so the Campbell Park neighborhood and the school across the Street, John Hopkins Middle School, have a neighboring complex that adds to the neighborhood.
UPDATE JUNE 29th, 2011
A room full of people sat down again today to work through the process to sell and rehab the Citrus Grove complex. It is a complicated proposal and involved the federal, state, and city governments along with two non-profits and a for profit developer. In the meantime, work is being done to make the complex safer (No Tresspassing signs and enforcement, Security Cameras and removal of a wall that hid illegal activity) and better for the residents (5 buildings have new roofs, stairs are being repaired, the laundry room has been rehabbed, all units are getting screens, etc).
A contract to sell will be signed on Friday. We will know in late October is the State is going to assist in the sale.
October 2, 2011
We have a contract to buy and rehab the Citrus Grove apartments from a buyer that will be approved by HUD. The sale should close by the end of the year. The rehabilitation should start by the end of March 2012. Residents will get central air conditioning for the first time and well as more efficient hot water, toilets and other reasonable housing conditions.
The future for the Citrus Grove apartments looks better than ever thanks to a group of people who kept their eye on the goal - decent, affordable housing.
April 2, 2012 UPDATE
The sale of Citrus Grove has been delayed until April 20th. The good news is that it will result in an additional $450,000 in badly needed renovation funds being available for the complex.