Bill Fisher believes most communities would like to see older apartment complexes such as Grand Manor in Tyler to just go away.
But demolishing it would leave 120 families, many of them elderly and disabled, without a place to live.
Instead, Dallas-based Odyssey Residential Holdings L.P. tries to preserve apartments like the 60-year-old Grand Manor.
The company applies for funding through state and federal agencies, such as the Texas Department of Housing and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to modernize and turn them into an asset to the community.
“The ultimate stakeholders are the community and the residents who live there,” he said.
Fisher, a location specialist for Sonoma Housing that works with Odyssey Residential, spoke to a group of community leaders, HUD representatives and Grand Manor residents Wednesday at a groundbreaking ceremony.
The apartment complex, at 2700 N. Grand Ave. is getting a $6.5 million facelift and a new name — Victory Park.
Fisher thanked the Tyler Police and Development Services departments and the Fort Worth Regional HUDD office for their help with the project.
He also thanked the more than a dozen residents in attendance.
“What we’re doing is a team sport,” he said. “It takes a team to make this happen.”
Although Fisher knows the residents don’t want to move out of their units during construction, he said they are working to get them back into new apartments as soon as possible.
Tenants are staying at hotels, with many at the nearby Quality Inn Hotel, or with friends, during construction, apartment manager Robin LaGrone has said, adding that they will move residents back into the units as they are completed.
Construction began in February, and the first building of renovated apartments is expected to be completed in May, Laura Brown, senior vice president for Odyssey Residential, said.
“We’re working to better your quality of life,” Fisher told the residents. “The whole effort here is to leave a Grand Manor, which is now going to be Victory Park, back into your home, but it’s really going to be a new home.”
Melissa Adami, director of development for Odyssey Residential, said they bought the apartment complex in 2012 and they are rehabilitating the entire property. Work includes giving the exterior of the buildings a completely new, updated look, gutting the interiors and replacing them with everything new. They also are building a club house, pool and playgrounds.
Ms. LaGrone said the project was awarded tax credits for low-income housing and was approved for $6.5 million in renovations. They will include a new sidewalk, parking lots, roof, HVAC system, stairway and windows, a new computer center and basketball court, she said. They expect the complete project to last nine to 12 months, depending on the weather, she added.
The property was formerly Texas College Apartments. Ms. LaGrone has said most people who live there are from the immediate area, and many have raised their children there. There also are a lot of senior residents, she added.
“I’m looking forward to the new Victor Park,” she said.
Grand Manor is the first Tyler property acquired by Odyssey Residential. Ms. Adami said they chose the property because its 120 units are always 100 percent occupied and because it’s next door to Texas College.
“It’s definitely the one we thought we could do the most good with as far as rehabbing the property,” she said.
She said Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle and his department have helped clean up the crime in the area, and he and the city have helped rally around the cause.
Fisher said they took input from the residents and the city on what should be done to improve the area. Because of feedback from the police department, they are putting in full perimeter fencing and controlled access gates to provide additional security.