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Waco Section 8 apartments could get remodel through housing authority later this year

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Trendwood Apartments, which offers government-subsidized units, made it a step closer to receiving a remodel later this year following recent actions of Waco City Council as well as Waco Housing Authority and Associates.

A bond sale to allow tax-credit financing for redevelopment of Trendwood Apartments received approval at the Waco Housing Authority and Affiliates board of commissioners meeting Thursday and at the city council a week earlier. Now the developer poised to buy and renovate the complex is working toward approval of the tax credits needed to finance the work.

trendwood

Trendwood Apartments could soon see a new owner and a renovation.

Built in 1963 and a privately owned apartment complex, Trendwood has contracted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide low-income housing, sometimes called Section 8 housing, to tenants directly, rather than using a voucher-based process. The complex is located at 1700 Dallas Circle in Waco.

“The (Housing Authority) board approved the bond sale,” housing authority President and CEO Millet Hopping said Thursday. “The bonds will allow tax credits to be sold. Proceeds are used to revamp or build (housing).”

In this case Waco Public Facility Corp. will be a limited partner with Denver-based Steele Properties LLC, while Waco Public Facility Corp. – II will sell the bonds, Hopping said.

“We have a process with the city that we follow. We have sold (this type of) bonds before,” she said.

Hopping and other representatives of the housing authority did not immediately respond to the Tribune-Herald’s request to know the amount of bonds approved for sale.

However, at a city council meeting May 3, Steele Trendwood LP proposed a project with an overall cost of about $27.8 million, including the purchase price of the complex.

Steele is a Denver-based national real estate investment company that specializes in affordable housing, their presentation to the city council states. Waco Public Facility Corp. is an arm of the housing authority, Hopping said.

Purchase would cost about $9.1 million, or $61,000 per unit. Around $10.5 million, or $69,000 per unit, could be spent on renovations, if everything comes together as planned. “Fees, reserves and soft costs” would account for $6 million of the project, with financing costs of around $2 million, according to the Steele Trendwood presentation given to the city council on May 3 and available on the Waco City Council website.

Paul Moore, a representative of Steele Properties, said this week that his company has not yet closed on the deal and his colleagues are diligently working through remaining approvals required at all levels of government.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs lists as active and under review Steele’s application for its 4% Housing Tax Credit Program, a publicly supported financing mechanism for affordable housing.

The Steele Trendwood presentation to the city council indicates that if everything continues as planned, closing could come this summer with the renovation process starting soon afterward. Moore said the plan for renovations would take about 18 months to complete.

At a meeting May 3, the Waco City Council provided approval to its part of the process. Records show the council approved Waco Public Facility Corporation – II to sell the bonds.

“Steele Trendwood, LP, requested the City of Waco approve its request that bonds be issued for its proposed project being submitted for inclusion in the 2022 4% Housing Tax Credit Program through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs,” a city council work session document from May 3 states.

This project would be the renovation of Trendwood Apartments.

Its purpose, funded through bond proceeds along with the Tax Credit Program, is to assist the development team, consisting of Steele Properties, LLC, and the Waco Housing Authority, with funding to renovate 152 Trendwood units, the city document states.

Renovation of Trendwood will in turn “help sustain the amount of affordable units available in the market,” according to the document.

The property manager at Trendwood, under Omaha, Nebraska-based Seldin Co., Jason Yepma, said he takes pride in the improvements to quality of life that he and his assistant have made for the residents since they started work there in February.

“We have several charities that come on a rotating basis to feed children on Friday afternoons,” Yepma said.

He also said the complex held an Easter egg hunt for children on Easter.

More than 60% of the residents at the property are 18 and under, and he is focusing his effort on them.

“This renovation has been a long time coming,” Yepma said Wednesday.

He said he looks forward to meeting the project’s partner.

City lawsuit

In November 2019, the city of Waco sued the company that owned Trendwood at the time, Trendwood Investors LLC in the 170th State District Court over code violations.

City inspectors found 44 categories of violations in 143 of the complex’s units during an inspection in August that year, according to the lawsuit.

“Structures are so insanitary as to be unfit for human occupancy,” the lawsuit states. “Structures and exterior property are not kept free from rodent harborage and infestation.”

The city dropped the suit last summer after the owners brought the complex back into compliance with city code and paid $50,000 in penalties.

This past Wednesday, Yepma said he started an anti-litter campaign soon after he started work there the in February.

“We began giving the tenants written notices in the mail, that we weren’t going to litter anymore,” he said.

After several weeks, he said “the grounds look as clean as any college apartment complex.”

Crime at Trendwood

A review of Waco Police Department callout data at Trendwood from January 2017 through December 2021, the most recent data provided, revealed that police visit the complex for a variety of call types, with most months seeing between 35 and 55 police visits.

Reasons for calls range from the violent, including domestic disputes, to the common, including kid disputes. Police went there nine times in February 2021 for domestic disputes, and four times in August that year for kid disputes.

Police callouts to Trendwood Apartments

Waco Police Department provided the monthly number of callouts of all types to Trendwood Apartments between January 2017 and December 2021.

The highest number of monthly callouts in recent years happened in July 2019, when there were 94, following that year’s low month, June, with 24. June 2019 was also one of the five lowest months of the entire five year interval.

In 2021, callouts appeared to be trending downward with most months seeing fewer than 35 and the recent low of 18, in September that year.

Possible renovations

Steele Properties LLC specializes in the acquisition, rehabilitation and new construction of affordable multi-family and senior rental properties, according to a presentation on the city council website associated with the work session. Steele has owned, operated and redeveloped more than 75 properties in 24 states, including 16 properties in Texas.

Approvals and commitments from federal and state agencies are still in the works and Steele has not yet closed the deal, Steele representative Moore said Wednesday. However, in the firm’s presentation to the city council May 3, Steele listed these improvements among those they could do:

  • Residential units: new kitchens and bathrooms, flooring, LED lighting fixtures, new HVAC system and thermostats.
  • Wheelchair accessible and Hearing/Visual accessible units.
  • Envelope: new windows, new roofs, new exterior paint, accessible pathways to all common areas.
  • Common amenities: remodeled community building with library, arts & crafts room and a computer lab. A new sports court, playground and picnic pavilion on site.
  • Security upgrades: monitored security cameras, controlled gate access.
  • Resident services: weekly services dictated by residents’ needs.

Moore said details of the renovations have not yet been finalized.

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Christopher De Los Santos is a U.S. Army veteran with a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas. He previously worked at the Williamson County Sun in Georgetown.

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