Published: Dec 04, 2012 11:26 AM
Modified: Dec 05, 2012 09:10 AM
CARRBORO - The new owners of the Collins Crossing complex have proposed a $5,000 charge on all units that several local nonprofits say they dont know how theyll pay.
The board of the complex on Jones Ferry Road, formerly known as Abbey Court and before that Old Well, has called a Dec. 19 meeting to consider and vote to approve a special assessment of $5,406 on each of the complexs 300-plus units, or a total of nearly $1.8 million.
The meeting notice does not say how the money would be spent, though the the apartment complex dates back to the 1970s and needs major repairs. The notice is signed by Jeffrey Strole, president of the board and vice president of Aspen Square Management, which paid Tar Heel Companies of Raleigh just over $7 million for 252 units in June. The rest of the complex's 332 condos are privately owned
The Massachusetts company also owns Berkshire Manor and Berkshire Manor West on N.C. 54 West in Carrboro, and Ashford Lakes on South Churton Street in Hillsborough.
A spokeswoman for Aspen did not return calls last week.
Collins Crossing is one of the most affordable complexes in the area. It is home to mostly Latinos and African Americans and some immigrants from Burma.
Residents have complained over the years about crime, drugs and discrimination. This fall, tenants and their supporters have rallied twice against rent increases.
Groups such as Empowerment Inc. and CASA, an affordable housing developer, own units at the complex that they rent at below-market rates to tenants who qualify.
Agency leaders acknowledged Collins Crossing needs work, but said they had no advance notice of the $5,000 assessment and will struggle if they have to pay it.
We pay home owners association dues already, CASA financial officer Debbie White said Wednesday. I wasnt counting on having to cough up another $5,000.
CASA, which serves primarily people with disabilities, has three units it leases for between $525 and about $600 a month, compared to a market rate of $789 for a two-bedroom apartment in the area. It made major renovations after acquiring them in 2009. White wants to know how the board came up with the $1.8 million renovation cost and how the money would be spent.
Empowerment Inc, an affordable housing developer and propery manager, owns one unit and plans to buy two more formerly owned by the Human Rights Center of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, a community center that formerly operated out Abbey Court. The agency plans to use $90,000 in government money to buy and renovate the new units for people facing homelessness.
Operating on a total budget of $400,000 a year, Empowerment would have difficulty paying $15,000 in new charges, executive director Delores Bailey said.
The most we get, maybe, (on the unit they currently own) is $625, and we pay a mortgage on it, Bailey said. So where is the money going to come from?
Mayor Mark Chilton, who works part time for Empowerment and has met with some Collins Crossing tenants and their supporters, says roofs, gutters and the parking lot need work. But he too wants to see an accounting of how the money would be spent.
Chilton said he and others worry that the renovation costs, passed to tenants through higher rents, could force out some of Carrboros poorest residents .
If peoples rents are going up a little bit, and theyre getting repairs, that seems reasonable, he said. If rents are skyrocketing ... well, thats their economic prerogative.
But the Dec. 19 meeting, he said, appears to be little more than procedure. Since Aspen Square management owns most of the units, the reality is thats only a formality they need to go through.