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Interested buyer of Oakwood Village talks to locals

 

August 16, 2018



Editor’s note: This version corrects the spelling of Angel Care LLC

Local people met with Kirk Bruce, executive director of Affiliated Developers Inc., Wednesday to discuss a potential $3.5 million renovation of the Oakwood Village apartment complex in Havre.

They also had the opportunity to ask for an update on Affiliated Developers’ negotiations over Eagles Manor.

Bear Paw Development Corp. hosted the meeting in its conference room and Bear Paw Executive Director Paul Tuss introduced Bruce to the attendees.

The number one issue Bear Paw hears about in Havre, Tuss told the group, is housing.

“Oftentimes, we know what the problems are, but oftentimes, we don’t know what the solution is,” Tuss said, adding that he was very pleased to be part of a conversation to find some solutions.

The $58,000-per-unit Affiliated Developers estimates it will invest in Oakwood Village is “a jaw-dropping number,” Tuss said.

Bruce told the audience that the “per-unit” figure can often be misunderstood. The per-unit investment includes renovations on the exterior of the building, he added, and all other renovations to the property. Therefore, it is not as much as it sounds, he said. Oakwood Village is only a 60-unit building as opposed to something like a 300-unit, so there are less funds to go around the property.

Before renovations begin, Tuss said, Bear Paw’s brownfields program’s grant funds would take care of any lead-based paint and asbestos problems in the building.

Large renovations, including a potential partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, are in the works. An extension of the Boys & Girls Club would possibly be housed in a new building on the property.

The manager of Oakwood Village, Linden Billy, said 50 to 70 kids live on the property.

Many families also have service or companion domestic animals, Billy said. Renovations may include a dog park, the questionnaire says.

The renovations will include “green” renovations like LED lighting and energy-saving appliances and fixtures, as well as solar panels, which Bruce said will replace the building’s gas-heating and cut the utilities bill by at least 50 percent.

A resident questionnaire handed out at the meeting lists several other renovations, including adding a community room, a flat membrane roof, new windows and new hot water tanks. Affiliated Developers also plans to update the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, upgrade the playground area, resurface the parking lot and add new flooring to units, the questionnaire says.

Billy said he would hand the questionnaire to residents himself, adding that none of them made it to Wednesday’s meeting at Bear Paw’s offices.

“If there was a community center (at Oakwood Village) we could be having this meeting there,” Havre City Council member Caleb Hutchins said.

Oakwood Village is a low-income residence, Bruce said, and the renovations will not increase the cost of apartments.

The 90 percent of the tenants are Native American, Billy added.

Affiliated Developers is a section 42 low-income housing tax developer, he added, meaning these renovations will be funded by federal tax credits. Montana Board of Housing allocates the low-income tax credits it receives from the federal government, he said, to companies that score highest on its criteria.

Affiliated Developers scored a 1,260 out of 1,260 for this project, Bruce said, and is the only company in the running that has been offered a purchase agreement. Affiliated Developers still needs to gather community input from Wednesday’s meeting for the Board of Housing, however, and make a final pitch at a meeting this fall, he said.

Bruce said he will know by Nov. 20 if the board will award Affiliated Developers with the tax credits, which the company would monetize to renovate Oakwood Village, its new property. Renovations would begin sometime next summer, he added.

Eagles Manor update

Community members interrupted the discussion of Oakwood Village to ask about the bank’s slow-moving negotiations with Affiliated Developers, which also want to purchase Eagles Manor.

Havre locals like Susan Somers and Bill Lanier expressed their concern to Bruce about the Manor’s un-maintained air conditioning. Many residents are elderly, some in their 90s, and are at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses in Havre’s 90-plus degree weather this summer.

Mayor Tim Solomon said the city approved a loan to Affiliated Developers. The loan is for $125,000 to make repairs on Eagles Manor.

The problem, Bruce told the group, is that the current sellers of Eagles Manor are in default with their note on the bank.

“What we can’t do is take on a loan from the city, and then the bank forecloses on the seller, and then we’re out what we’re out,” Bruce said.

The bank is fairly generous, he added, with what it is “willing to take.”

“It’s a lot of moving parts,” he said. “All I can say is we’re getting very close.”

Krista Solomon, executive director of Havre’s HELP Committee, said she encourages everyone who calls her office to call the Eagles Manor board and management company, which is Tamarack Management Company.

“It’s not (Affiliated Developers) that’s slowing it down,” she said.

Angela McGillivray of Angel Care LLC, which offered Eagles Manor residents blood pressure tests Friday, said the staff at Eagles Manor is great.

“It’s not as bad as people think,” McGillivray said, “but it does need to get fixed.”

She said residents seemed OK, although most had not yet come down for the check up yet. McGillivray also added that “the owner, who is responsible, has not gotten it fixed for whatever reason, but (the manager) is doing the best that she can.”

The landlords of Eagles Manor are legally responsible for maintaining the air conditioning, Montana Code Annotated Section 70-24-303 (3) says.

Residents have two options, according to the Montana Tenants’ Rights and Duties Handbook, page 10. They can end the rental agreement after giving written notice, within only three working days if the problem has created an emergency, the handbook says.

Four or five people have given notice for Sept. 1, a member of the manor’s resident council said.

The second option the handbook gives is that, if the repairs cost less than one month’s rent, residents can deduct the cost of making repairs themselves from their next month’s rent. They must first give the landlord written notice and reasonable time to make the repair, the handbook says. Tenants can take the landlord to court if the repairs cost more than a month’s rent, the handbook adds, or if the tenant does not wish to make the repairs.

 

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