DAYTONA BEACH – For the 300 people who live in the Windsor and Maley apartments, the two high-rise buildings overlooking a Halifax River marina are their world.
Only people with physical disabilities or age 62 or older are allowed to live in the 12-story towers a few blocks south of Orange Avenue, and few venture beyond the gazebo out front, benches by the river and 7-Onze down the street.
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So while problems arose during a major refurbishment of the apartments which began earlier this year, they felt trapped.
Residents who use walkers and wheelchairs say they were confined to their apartments and balconies when the lifts had problems and stopped working. Some say they’ve endured a variety of bugs, leaky ceilings, disturbing construction noises, homeless people wandering through buildings, and water from taps that never gets cold, let alone cold.
“We don’t need to live like this,” said Yette Scott, one of 50 Windsor residents temporarily living in the Maley units during the first phase of construction. “They don’t seem to care about us at all.”
Some of the problems with the pair of 50-year-old towers overlooking the west bank of the Halifax River have more to do with wear and tear on aging structures than renovations, but construction and maintenance issues are addressed most quickly as possible. , say the owners of the property.
“This renovation aims to solve the problems of an older building, and we are also working on maintenance issues,” said Christianne Brunini, marketing director at Knight Development, which co-owns the apartments. “We are trying to get everyone back to comfortable living as soon as possible.”
Each of Windsor’s 150 apartments and Maley’s 148 residential units will be gutted and redone as part of a $59.25 million renovation. The works are being approached in phases of around 25 or 50 apartments at a time, and tenants living in the units being worked on are being temporarily relocated to vacant apartments in the complex.
Work in the apartments will include kitchen and bathroom updates; plumbing and appliance replacements; upgrade of building system and elevators; new flooring, doors and lighting; renovations to meeting and exercise rooms; fight against floods and modernization of community space.
Changes to Windsor and Maley
The remake of the Daytona Beach Housing Authority apartments was originally slated for completion in the spring of 2024, but supply chain issues and COVID concerns have already delayed some of the work. The hope is still to complete the Windsor Building by May 2023 and the Maley Building by April 2024.
Sauer, Inc., is the general contractor for the project, and the developer is Louisiana-based Knight Development, formerly known as BGC Advantage. A limited liability company has been set up for Knight Development and the Housing Authority to join as co-owners of the apartment buildings.
The Housing Authority retains ownership of the land and has entered into a ground lease with Knight Development.
An agreement between the Housing Authority and Knight Development requires the flats to remain affordable for at least 15 years and prevents any other private company from taking over for at least 30 years.
As part of the new arrangement, the property has been renamed WM At The River.
BGC was brought into the Housing Authority project largely to help with funding. The newly formed LLC was able to apply for various types of debt, equity, grants, and other financial resources.
The renovation of Windsor and Maley will be financed by various sources of financing, including bonds, tax credits, equity investors and a loan.
“For seniors, it’s not good”
Moving is not an option for most residents of Windsor and Maley, many of whom live on meager social security checks. Their rent at the downtown property can’t exceed 30% of their income, and some pay as little as $212 a month. They could never afford market-rate rents that have soared well over $1,000.
For many residents, it becomes a low-income retirement home that they stay in for the rest of their lives. Tenants often end up living there for decades.
Scott lived at the Windsor for 15 years, then seven months ago she was temporarily relocated to a Maley flat. She was appalled at the way the renovation project is going.
“For seniors, it’s not good. It’s dangerous,” the 64-year-old said.
Scott said the building’s front doors were locked at 5 p.m. every day, but now “things are just wide open.”
“We’ve always had a problem with homelessness, but now they’re coming,” she said. “I chased some homeless people.”
A woman who lives in a house next to the flats said she had a homeless man sleeping next to her fence and she saw other homeless people on the bank across the street.
There are security cameras on the apartment property and security guards at night. But some residents believe crimes, including drug dealing, are still being committed outside the apartments.
Tenants say there have been other non-construction issues. When the Maley Building’s garbage chute broke several months ago, some residents began tossing their garbage bags from their balconies into open bins. Many bags miss their target and the waste ends up scattered on the ground.
Glass beer bottles shattered on the sidewalk, and when trash bags break or are ripped open by animals, exposed food rots in the scorching sun.
Maggots, flies and gnats
When the litter problem was at its worst, gnats invaded the area. Annie Hamilton lives in a house just south of the Maley, and she said the bugs were getting into her garden and house.
Hamilton said the stench of garbage was also wafting through his yard. She said apartment residents were scared if they complained about being evicted, so she called the city’s code enforcement division.
She said there were maggots, flies and gnats around the five open bins, and she had to put up a privacy fence to lessen some of the effects of being right next to them. She still struggles to enjoy her backyard, which has an outdoor dining table and a hot tub.
When City Commissioner Quanita May heard about the trash piling up a few months ago, she stepped in to help. The problem has improved now that Waste Pro has agreed to increase garbage collection there from two days a week to five days.
“These are my constituents,” May said as she stood outside the apartments recently. “It’s important that my constituents are taken care of. I can’t make them suffer.”
Things should get better again soon. A new waste chute was ordered two weeks ago, and it’s “on the way,” Brunini said.
The apartments’ on-site management company, Allied Orion, is working to resolve the issues, said Sandra Simms, the company’s regional supervisor.
“Go As Fast As They Can”
Jackie Wilkinson has lived in the Maley building for nearly four years, and she said she insisted on a ground-floor unit so she didn’t have to worry about elevator breakdowns.
The 64-year-old doesn’t know when renovations will begin on her building and she will have to temporarily move to Windsor, but she looks forward to the upgrades that will eventually come.
She said that sometimes foul-smelling water would come up the drain of her kitchen sink, and it happened while she was doing the dishes.
Sally Jass, who has lived on the 11th floor of Windsor Apartments for 14 years, doesn’t blame all the problems on the renovation. The current lack of working washers and dryers has nothing to do with construction, she said.
“The buildings are 50 years old and things are falling apart,” said Jass, who sits on the Housing Authority board. “Hiring maintenance staff has been a nightmare. People aren’t applying for jobs.”
She said the construction workers are “going as fast as they can” and are “doing a terrific job.” She said the manager was also trying to keep people comfortable.
Jass admitted there was some dismay, but said residents just had to be patient.
“All people are seeing now is construction, but the new units will be nice,” she said, noting that about $22,000 is being spent on each unit.
For now, she says she’s just happy to have a roof over her head that she can afford.
As construction continues, there will be people watching over the residents.
“I think the elders at the complex are vulnerable and I care about our elders,” May said. “I have known many of them for years, and many are distressed and anxious because of the living conditions.”
Brunini said his company is working hard to provide residents with a nice place to live.
“We take the concerns of our residents seriously,” Brunini said. “We do our best to minimize the discomfort of an on-site renovation and quickly address the need for ongoing maintenance as issues, such as a broken waste chute, through property management. This renovation will meet the needs of a rapidly aging building and result in a better quality of life for its current and future residents.”
You can reach Eileen at [email protected]