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The Lawrence Avenue Apartments on Debra Drive in Potsdam. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — The Lawrence Avenue Apartments on Debra Drive have new owners and with that will come a new look.

Community Preservation Partners, a California-based company with Eastern Division located in Virginia, purchased the property with codeveloper Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, LTD, from Chason Affinity Companies, Buffalo.

The acquisition of the 1980 buildings came after Community Preservation Partners, a WNC company, received $14,960,000 from the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency through the issuance of tax-exempt bond financing.

Both companies also secured $15 million in financing through Key Bank in Freddie Mac financing, according to a news release issued by bank officials, along with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in conjunction with a Housing Assistance Payments Contract agreement via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Robbie Lynn of Key Bank Real Estate Capital’s Commercial Mortgage Group arranged the financing for the acquisition and said, “The borrower has a deep commitment to preserving, rehabilitating and revitalizing communities.”

“The in-place rehabilitation strategy ensures tenants will keep their homes, maintain its affordability for a longer term and substantially improve the quality of living for members of the community,” Mr. Lynn said in the release.

The project consists of the acquisition of approximately 10.5 acres of land with six residential buildings containing 137 affordable multifamily housing units, St. Lawrence County IDA Chief Executive Officer Patrick J. Kelly said.

It also will include the renovation, equipping and modernization of the buildings and reconstruction of eight apartment units made uninhabitable by fire damage, he said.

A public hearing was held regarding the project in April in Potsdam.

Community Preservation Partners Senior Project Manager John Fraser, in a phone interview with the Times on Tuesday, said he was excited about the project and that the company held an ice cream social and pizza party last week in order to meet with residents and tell them about the plans ahead.

Those plans include the replacement of the current vinyl siding with a kind of wood composite that he said will have a more appealing look and will last longer, a wholesale roof replacement, a wholesale window replacement, photovoltaic cells being installed on a couple of the buildings, which is going to cover 100 percent of the common area electrical load.

In the apartments they are installing new kitchens, new bathrooms, and new flooring throughout, at about $62,000 per unit, Mr. Fraser said.

There also will be a new playground area, a new adult exercise area outside, a structure with a barbecue area and a dog run.

“So the residents are really excited about that,” he said. “So not only will the units really be essentially renovated, but when you pull on site, it is gonna be like night and day from how it looks now.”

WinnResidential will take over managing the property, and all the staff currently employed will remain on,” Mr. Fraser said.

Mr. Fraser said there should be a model unit completed and available to show residents in October.

“This is a lot more than I am typically able to do, making this a great project,” Mr. Fraser said. “But the other thing that is really exciting here is not only are we preserving and enhancing this affordable asset in Potsdam, but prior to us losing, the affordability restrictions . . . limited people up to 80 percent of area median income (AMI), but by layering in the low income housing tax credits, that restricts up to 60 percent AMI, so that means we actually went to a deeper level of affordability.”

A fire that reportedly started in the bathroom of one of the apartment buildings in January and displaced 39 residents, resulted in the building being condemned.

That building remains as such and Mr. Fraser said he plans on getting to work on the building immediately, with hopes of having residents back in their homes by November.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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