WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Some troubled Winston-Salem apartments, which police and community members say have become a hotbed for criminal activity, are nearing demolition.
“We haven’t abandoned them,” said Larry Woods, Housing Authority of Winston-Salem CEO. “We haven’t walked away from the deal.”
The housing authority had planned to close on the New Hope Manor Apartments – formerly the Burke Village Apartments – back in January. However, they say holdups with the bank and unresolved citations have caused the delay.
The housing authority says hundreds of citations for things like failure to maintain, and improper waste management, have been issued in recent years. These citations have resulted in monetary penalties which have not yet been paid.
“Clearly we’d like to gain some kind of site control,” Woods said.
Since Jan. 1, the Winston-Salem Police Department has responded to at least 10 calls for discharging firearms and four calls for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Other responses include drug activity, child abuse and robbery.
“A lot of trespassing, folks hanging out there all hours of the night,” Woods said.
Woods said the housing authority will take the lead on the project, with it being owned by Forsyth Economic Ventures. The endeavor is part of a larger-scale face lift in the area of Cleveland Avenue.
He hopes they will close on the property sometime in the next 30 days.
“This will not be federal housing,” Woods said. “There’s been rumors that once we acquire it we’re giving everybody a voucher and we’re going to move everybody out. That is not true.”
In other words, the apartments will not be Section 8; therefore, there will be no subsidized rent. However, if someone comes with a voucher, Woods said, they will accept it.
Once the title is transferred, Woods said they will spend six to eight months demolishing some of the buildings and renovating others. He believes five or six of the outlying apartment buildings will be flattened.
“There are several buildings we plan to demolish, that we think are too far gone,” he added.
Woods said there are currently about 120 units on the property. They plan to have 84 units left when the project is completed.
“Folks are kind of scattered throughout the remaining buildings,” he said. “We believe that we can move families into enough of the vacant units so that we can isolate individual buildings, do the work and then begin to move families from one building back into a new renovated building.”
Woods said the housing authority plans to hold community meetings, and go door-to-door, to speak with residents and inform them of their options. He added that there will be no off-site relocations for residents.
The housing authority is also aware that there are people currently living on the premises without the proper paperwork. Woods said they will offer those people the opportunity to fill out a rental application.
“But they will be going through a credit check and a criminal background check,” Woods detailed.
He added that they will also work to improve sight lines, so police can monitor the property in their normal activities. They have also discussed hiring off-duty officers to patrol the area during certain times of day.
Woods tells FOX8 that the City of Winston-Salem has guaranteed $1.6 million to help with purchase and renovations. The initial purchase price is $1.8 million and the renovation will cost about $1.6 million, he said.
“We are only trying to stimulate the economy there and try to bring some hope back into this community,” Woods said.