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Chance at new life for apartments

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Bellview Apartments in Winchester might be renovated soon thanks in part to a low-income housing tax credit. Dennis Grundman/Daily

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The City Council voted unanimously during a work session last week to forward a proposal to its regular meeting that could help to renovate apartments that have been causing turmoil for years.

Bellview Apartments, which sit on the northwest corner of Bellview Avenue and South Loudoun Street, "are currently dilapidated and poorly managed and continue to be a blight on this part of our community," according to online city documents.

"It is a property that continues to receive a lot of scrutiny from the city," said Jim Deskins, director of economic redevelopment for the city.

The council forwarded a measure to allow interim City Manager Craig Gerhart to send a letter of support for a Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which is necessary for renovation of the apartments with the company in question.

Chris New, vice president for Fore Property Co., which is the contract purchaser of the apartments, said the contract will terminate if the company doesn't receive the tax credit.
"It's all contingent upon getting funding from the Virginia Housing Development Authority," he said.

He will know by the end of the summer if the company is in the final rankings, but won't receive formal documents allowing the credit until December, he said.

"Starting on redevelopment would be as soon thereafter as possible," he said, explaining that construction would start during the first or second quarter of 2012 and last for 11 months to a year.

It would be a total renovation in which "every unit would be touched," he said.

According to Deskins, the number of units would drop from 91 to 66. New said the property would receive new insulation, central heating and air conditioning and would ultimately attain Earthcraft certification. Also, company officials plan to add a 1,200- to 1,400-square-foot community building with amenities for the residents.

"It's not just lipstick ... so to speak," New said, noting that he's not sure what the company's chances to earn the tax credit are.

"It's hard for me to say at this point because I don't know who else I'm competing against," he said. "It's sort of a guessing game at this point until we know formally who submits applications in March. I would like to think that we have a great opportunity."

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