City Council OKs Rolling Hills help, holds off on New Hope Manor

Larry Woods

City Council OKs Rolling Hills help, holds off on New Hope Manor
September 22
08:15 2016



The Winston-Salem City Council lent its support to a $7.8 million rehabilitation of Rolling Hills, but delayed action on a loan for renovating New Hope Manor during its Monday, Sept 19, meeting.

Rolling Hills has made headlines in the last months for its substandard conditions and multiple housing code violations. The council unanimously approved an endorsement of $7.8 million in housing revenue bonds for Steel Rolling Hills LLC to acquire and rehabilitate the 110 unit apartment complex. The bonds do not involve city funds, nor is the city liable for repayment.

The council previously approved bonds of up to $5.6 million for Rolling Hills, when it was estimated it would take up to$17,000 per unit for rehabilitation. The council revisited the issue when it became apparent that might not be enough to get the units up to code and keep them that way. The property has a history of having the minimum done to get the apartments into code compliance, only to have them fall below that standard again. City Council Member Derwin Montgomery said he felt the new bond amount, which allows for $42,000 per unit, will make meaningful change to the complex.

“It will go far to make sure the quality of housing for those individuals who reside in Rolling Hills will be something that the entire community will be proud of,” he said.

Montgomery didn’t believe the same was true of a $1.6 million loan to the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem to acquire New Hope Manor and rehab the units there so they stay up to code.

“This is, in my opinion, a Band Aide on issues that exist on the property,” he said.

HAWS’ plan for the distressed property is to demolish seven of the 18 buildings there that are unfit for habitation and rehabilitate the remaining 79 units, spending $1.2 million, or about $15,000 per unit, on rehab. HAWS would also apply for a federal Choice Neighbors grant that would allow it to demolish and rebuild the complex in a few years. Montgomery said that it may be better to look at other ways to get residents into affordable, quality housing rather than spend money to fix apartments that will be demolished.

City Council member Robert Clark wanted to approve the measure, saying that HAWS had a good reputation for turning around properties. City Council Members Jeff MacIntosh and D.D. Adams also had concerns about if the amount was enough to fix the units and if the $2.6 million appraisal of the property is current and accurate.

Ritchie Brooks, director of community and business development, said that city staff has not done a visual inspection of the apartments to confirm if the amount of money HAWS is planning to spend will be enough.

HAWS Director Larry Woods assured the council it was not a “Band Aide job,” with extensive renovations that include replacing floors, cabinets and refrigerators. He said residents where also asked about problems in individual units that need fixing. New cameras and off duty police officers will be used for security. He said that if HAWS got the Choice Neighborhood grant the city would be paid back.

Woods said the amount HAWS is spending on renovations is lower than Rolling Hills because the units it’s not demolishing are in better shape.

“This is not Rolling Hills, this is in a lot better condition than Rolling Hills,” he said.

Ultimately, the item was sent back to the finance committee for further discussion next month.

Also during the meeting, the council approved leasing property in Kimberley Park to Goler CDC for a new hydroponics facility by 7-1. Clark was the only “no” vote, saying he didn’t think it was a good use of park land, that the city shouldn’t be “getting into the lettuce business” and that he felt the job training there wouldn’t be transferable to other jobs in the area. The facility will grow vegetables in water and provide fresh produce to the Kimberley Park community, which is a food desert. The City Council has already approved $962,000 for the project.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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