New York billionaire’s affiliate working in Radford
Crews will repair the out-of-service swimming pool, smooth damaged sidewalks and modernize kitchens with dishwashers during renovation of the nearly 40-year-old Willow Woods apartment complex in Radford.
A New York real estate firm has begun a $3.6 million renovation of the aging complex, financed with tax-exempt bonds whose sale to investors was blessed by Radford’s Industrial Development Authority and city council.
Residents of the 144 units can remain in their homes during the work, scheduled to be done this coming summer. In addition, management will continue pricing terms designed to make the units affordable for people of limited means, officials said.
The company driving the project is The Related Companies L.P., a real estate firm in New York. Its founder, billionaire Stephen Ross, the majority owner of the Miami Dolphins football team, is currently tackling a $12 billion urban-renewal project in Manhattan called Hudson Yards.
But the company is also active in Southwest Virginia with the Radford initiative. The Related Companies’ affordable-housing arm first approached Radford officials with a proposal for “the renovation and preservation” of Willow Woods, built in 1975, the company’s spokeswoman Joanna Rose said.
Located on Allen Avenue, Willow Woods is a cluster of brown-roofed buildings about a mile southeast of city offices that stays nearly 95 percent occupied, according to bond documents, which disclose that up to 100 of the units come with a federal rent subsidy for qualified renters.
After 37 years of use, the complex is showing its age. Radford officials say it hasn’t been neglected but needs fixing up.
“It’s like having an old car,” said Basil Edwards, Radford’s economic development director. “It might be a good vehicle, but the engine might need to be overhauled, or it might need new paint.”
The city gave a required municipal blessing for the sale of $6.6 million in tax-exempt bonds to support the project. They’d like to see the refurbishment of the complex leading to greater curb appeal and improved resident amenities, Edwards said.
With the bond proceeds in hand, Willow Woods Preservation L.P. — a Related Companies affiliate — bought the complex from a non-local entity Aug. 21 for $2.75 million.
Radford government is not on the hook for any of the debt, officials said. That responsibility belongs to the new owner.
The new owner plans to spend $3.6 million for interior and exterior renovations, Rose said. Windows, floors, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, lights, heating and air conditioning equipment, hot water heaters, roofing and siding will be replaced. The community room and management office will also be improved.
“It’s total re-do,” said Marvin Loyd, co-owner of Mechanical Services Inc., a Salem general contractor hired to oversee the job.
Loyd intends to hire subcontractors from the New River and Roanoke valleys, he said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661