project_merge_cc_web.jpgSherley Gerald used to call the public housing development where she lives at 3150 Mundy St., Miami, “The Mansion.”

After her apartment at the development called Stirrup Plaza received a $74,000 facelift, she now calls it the “Super Mansion.”

“It looks like I live in a mansion or a beautiful hotel somewhere on South Beach,” said Gerald, who moved back into her new apartment about four months ago.

On Thursday, the Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development showed off 197 completely renovated efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments for seniors and disabled residents. Reopened were 100 units at Stirrup Plaza, 3150 Mundy St., Miami and 97 units at South Miami Plaza, 6701 SW 62 Ave., South Miami.

Construction at each development was done in phases but the entire renovation took just over a year to complete. The cost to renovate each apartment in Stirrup Plaza was $74,000 and more than $76,000 each at South Miami.

Gerald was grateful for her apartment before the renovation. She pays $316 per month for rent, and foots the bill for cable, phone and insurance. She has lived in her apartment for 17 years and, over time, the apartment received some attention, but not much.

“It needed painting, cabinets and everything was worn and torn.” But I still loved the place and was grateful for it,” Gerald said. “We tried to make the best of it. We keep the place up as best as we can. We are like a big family here, regardless of race or color.”

Through a public/private partnership between the county and developers some 685 of the county’s 9,000 public housing stock have received or will receive a complete overall. The rentals were occupied until renovations started, when developer Related Urban Development Group moved the residents to a hotel for temporary housing.

“They managed to move a population like the elderly and the disabled and we had minimal complaints,” said Gregg Fortner, director of Miami-Dade’s public housing agency.

When the residents returned to their apartments after about a six-week to two-month displacement, they found porcelain tile floors throughout the units, new wood kitchen cabinets with granite counter tops, garbage disposals, marble window sills, cable/TV hook up and an emergency call service device.

The common areas got a facelift too, as the renovations included the community center, laundry facility and a library was equipped with a computer lab. The building itself received impact resistant windows, new doors, air conditioning wall units, landscaping, parking lot resurfacing and a new roof.

A wellness center is in the works. All appliances are green energy and the apartments are outfitted with low-flow water shower heads, faucets and toilets.

Gerald, who is considered elderly, said she lived in a hotel for about two months and received two meals per day while she was displaced during the renovations.

Related Urban is still working at Stirrup Plaza putting in finishing touches, said Gerald, who serves on the Resident Council. Some residents on the sixth floor have complained about leaking showers and others say some floors are uneven. Gerald worries the uneven floors may cause an accident.

Gerald recalled how when the project was announced rumors flied.

“We had some doubts,” she said. “We heard that they were going to move us out and fix the place up for someone else; we heard that the rent would change; we heard that University of Miami was going to buy the place.”

Gerald said Fortner came out and appeased their fears by explaining the partnership and reassuring them that their homes would remain their homes.

The financing of the rehab projects came from funding set-aside for preservation in 2011 by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. Miami-Dade made the argument that public housing qualified as buildings needing to be preserved and received about $8.5 million in tax credits, which will be spread to finance six projects, including the two revealed Thursday, according to Fortner. Already completed by Related Urban is Dante Fascell, 2929 NW 18th Ave, Miami.

The 10-year tax credits are sold by the developers to large financial instituitons who sell the credits to their investors., which makes the total funding  for the Miami-Dade rehabs $85 million.

Fortner said the housing department stock needs capital improvements of $300 million because 70 percent of the 9,000 units in the county are more than 40 years old. The county operates and maintains each unit with about $600, including rental payments and federal subsidies, according to Fortner.

Dealing with those facts some public housing only get repaired when health and public safety concerns need to be alleviated. Otherwise, requested renovations can take up to 25 days to get attention.

Asked why the sites selected were chosen for renovation, Fortner said the ones selected “would not have been our first choice, but these were the ones that scored highest based on the rating systems,” one major rating being proximity to public transportation.

Three more public housing projects renovations are either underway or left to be started. Green Turnkey is the only project for families.

The six total Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development projects that will get renovated and the developers are:

1. Dante Fascell: Related Urban Development Group

Property Address: 2929 NW 18th Ave.,
Year Constructed: 1973
Property Size: 2.75 acres 
Total Number of Units: 151

2. Green Turnkey: Atlantic Pacific Developers
Property Address: 1500 NW Seventh Ct.,
Year Constructed: 1968
Property Size: 0.55 acres 
Total Number of Units: 21

3. Jack Orr: Related Urban Development Group
Property Address: 550 NW Fifth St.,
Year Constructed: 1975
Property Size: 2.82 acres
Total Number of Units: 200

4.  Joe Moretti: Related Urban Development Group
Property Address: 240 SW Ninth St., 

 Year Constructed: old bldgs. in 1961 
New building— 2013/2014
Total Number of Units: 116, old buildings had 96 units
New building is 13 stories high on approximately 1.68 acres with associated  parking in a gated community

5. South Miami Plaza: Related Urban Development Group

Property Address: 6701 SW 62nd Ave.,
Year Constructed: 1976
Property Size: 2.5 acres 
Number of Units: 97

6.  Stirrup Plaza: Related Urban Development Group
Property Address: 3150 Mundy St.,
Year Constructed: 1977
Property Size: 1.5 acres 
Total Number of Units: 100