The new owner of Rivermont Apartments in Martinsville is spending millions of dollars to improve the complex and make it safer for residents.
Community Housing Partners (CHP), a nonprofit development organization based in Christiansburg, will spend up to $15 million on interior and exterior improvements, according to officials with the city and the organization.
Basically, each of the buildings and the apartments within them are getting complete makeovers, Martinsville City Council members learned Monday while touring the complex off Fayette Street at the city’s western edge.
Police once described Rivermont as the most dangerous place in Martinsville due to the large number of crimes there over the years.
“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been up this hill” responding to crimes ... , Police Chief Mike Rogers said, not finishing his statement.
Rosalynd London, a maintenance worker at Rivermont, said that in recent years, crime has decreased there as better tenants have moved in.
“A lot of our bad seeds have exited,” she said.
CHP wants to improve the situation even more, according to London and Site Superintendent Kendle Smith.
A police department substation is being developed at Rivermont. Rogers said he likely will not assign officers to the complex initially, but he could put some there if he determines they are needed.
More outdoor lighting is planned at night.
“We’re going to light it up like daylight,” Smith said.
Among ongoing improvements, a “community room” is being developed. Buildings are getting new insulation and roofs. Apartments are getting new windows, doors, plumbing, kitchen cabinets and appliances, and gas heat is being changed to electric, CHP representatives said.
After touring the complex and one of the finished apartments, Councilman Mark Stroud said “it looks a lot nicer” now.
London said the new owner is determined to not let tenants destroy the improvements being made.
Already, she said, apartments are inspected frequently to make sure tenants take care of the property and comply with rules. Inspectors look closely for damages, even something as small as smudges on walls, she said.
If a problem is found, most tenants quickly correct it, London said.
But if after a few inspections the problem remains and a tenant shows no interest in correcting it, the person or household will be evicted, she said.
CHP hopes to have all of the renovations completed by next February, according to Smith.
Council members toured Rivermont as part of a bus tour of Martinsville’s west side to examine conditions there before a neighborhood meeting was held Monday night at Albert Harris Elementary School.
Andy Powers, a city property maintenance inspector, pointed out several sites along Askin, Summit and Graves streets where the city recently tore down dilapidated structures.
The owner of a duplex in the 1100 block of Douglas Avenue demolished it on his own initiative, Powers noted.