Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Filling an Affordable Housing Niche

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Filling an Affordable Housing Niche

Article excerpt

Once a haven for vandals, and the object of numerous citations by the city, the Royal Villa Apartments complex has signed a new lease on life.

The 133-unit garden-style living area was bought in March for a reported $700,000 by Richard Phillips, president of Thomas Drayton & Co., and Chuck McLain of the Mull Corp. The two have overseen a $1 million renovation of the four-acre complex, resulting in a new look and name: The Pine Bluff Apartments.

Phillips noted the 6050 S. Harvey facility had fallen victim over its 20-year history to several fires, extensive flooding, poor management and foreclosure, resulting in an eyesore for the Southern Oaks community. "We didn't try to reinvent the wheel," he says. "We just wanted to put the site back together." To do that, Phillips and McLain have made numerous cosmetic and structural repairs -- including new roofing, siding and parking lot as well as new cable and telephone systems. Unit improvements consist of new carpeting, floor tiles and appliances. "We kept what amenities we had left and unscaled each of them," notes Phillips. While the renovations have been taking place, Phillips says leasing activity at the property has been rapid. Pine Bluff went from nine residents in March to a current total occupancy of 82 percent and climbing. Rental rates are $335 for one-bedroom units and $395 for two-bedroom. With the metro multifamily market seeing a construction boom of upscale projects, with rental rates upwards of $600 to $700 for one- bedroom units, Phillips sees Pine Bluff filling a niche for quality and affordable housing for Oklahoma City's blue-collar employees, young people and low- to moderate-income retirees. "Many folks just simply cannot afford to support the operating costs of tennis courts, weight rooms, golf courses and other amenities the newer and upscale projects have," explains Phillips. In addition, the resident profile has been a balanced mixture. The leasing to date has been 23 percent seniors, 44 percent singles and 33 percent families. According to Phillips, the average household income is $27,500 for families and $19,750 for singles. …

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