Housing Authority continues discussions about renovations to housing units

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 11:27 p.m. CDT; updated 2:12 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 24, 2012

*An earlier version gave the incorrect timeline for the project.

COLUMBIA — Proposed renovations to public housing units on Lincoln Drive and Unity Drive were discussed during a presentation and a Q-and-A session Wednesday at the Columbia Labor Temple.

The plan calls for renovations to the 50-year-old townhouses on Lincoln Drive and Unity Drive through a cooperative effort between the Columbia Housing Authority, ND Consulting Group, Tim Person & Associates, LLC and Capital Consultants Inc. 

Residents of nearby Oak Towers and the Lincoln Drive and Unity Drive townhouses listened to presentations by Tim Person of Tim Person & Associates, Michele Duffe, representative with NC Consulting Group, and Phil Steinhaus, Columbia Housing Authority CEO.

Steinhaus began by outlining some of the key questions from tenants, including if and when renovations might occur and how such construction might affect rent at the properties.

"What about my petition? Is that going to go unnoticed, or what?" said Michael Pryor, president of the Downtown Residents Association, about a petition presented to the board Tuesday.

The petition contained more than 120 signatures, 41 of which were from Lincoln Drive and Unity Drive residents, and requested renovations to the structures without relocating the tenants.

"What I got from (the petition) is that I think there is probably a lot of misinformation out there," Steinhaus said.

Person outlined conditions at the units with descriptions and photographs. Some of the issues were structural and foundational, including deteriorating plumbing, sinking floors and lack of fire escapes from second-story windows.

Ken Nuernberger of ND Consulting Group has previously estimated that renovations could cost $80,000 per unit.

The Columbia Housing Authority is considering plans to submit an application by March 2013* to the Missouri Housing Development Commission, with funding provided by tax credits. By May or June of 2013*, funding might be approved, and initial work would begin nine months later, after the Missouri Housing Development Commission ensures codes and energy efficiency goals are met for the renovations, Steinhaus said.

According to the Uniform Acquisition and Relocation Act handouts presented, tenants of the Lincoln Drive and Unity Drive homes would be provided with relocation assistance, including: payment of moving expenses to a new location and back to renovated locations and payment of utility hookups, deposits and transportation.

Renovations to the homes amount to a complete revamp of the interiors. Layouts would remain similar but provide increased storage, modern electrical systems and new plumbing.

The basic outer structures of the homes are in good shape, Person said.

However, not all residents shared this assessment of conditions at the properties. 

"It's great. It needs a touch-up, but it's not in dire condition," Pryor said. "(Lincoln and Unity drive) residents are not ready to be displaced."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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