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Apartment complex turnaround hailed
Group makes security, energy improvements, renames Rivermont
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Local officials and residents gathered Wednesday to celebrate the transformation of Rivermont Apartments into Maplewood Apartments. The complex was purchased and renovated by Community Housing Partners, a nonprofit development organization based in Christiansburg. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The transformation of Rivermont Apartments into a safe, attractive area called Maplewood Apartments was celebrated at a dedication and ribbon-cutting Wednesday.

In the 1990s, Rivermont Apartments, at 1446 Fayette St. in Martinsville, was considered by area law enforcement to be the most dangerous place in Martinsville, according to a 2003 Martinsville Bulletin article.

Now, Community Housing Partners (CHP), a nonprofit development organization based in Christiansburg that purchased the complex in 2013, has transformed the site.

Maplewood is a far cry from Rivermont, speakers agreed Wednesday.

Maplewood resident Alicia Joyce said she grew up at the apartment complex and moved back about seven years ago.

“Coming back to be able to see the change is an honor and a blessing,” she said, adding that other tenants she has spoken with also are grateful for the changes.

“I just want to thank the staff for working hard to make this change come about,” she added.

Improvements targeted security and energy efficiency, among other things.

Joyce said it made her emotional to see the time, effort and money that has been spent to improve the complex, and to see so many people come together to help the residents.

“It didn’t used to be like that,” she said.

CHP President and CEO Janaka Casper described the transformation of Rivermont into Maplewood as “one of our biggest turnarounds in our company’s history.”

“We had many long hours of staff discussions trying to decide if we were willing to tackle this property,” he said. “In the end, it is part of our mission, and the staff committed all-in to try and make this very successful ... turning buildings and units and apartments into homes.”

Out of the 213 residents at the complex, Casper said, 117 are children younger than 18. Those children, he said, one day will be contributing citizens in the area, and he is glad for CHP’s role in creating a safe home for them.

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins commended CHP for seeing the potential in the apartment complex.

“In my view, they have brought a new sense of pride to this neighborhood,” she said.

CHP has invested $5.2 million in capital improvements to the complex, Adkins said.

“Community Housing Partners is doing their part to create a safe, family-oriented neighborhood,” she said. “Thank you for having the vision and seeing the potential right here at Maplewood Apartments and for the city of Martinsville in general.”

Casper said that tenants have been “enthusiastic about their new homes,” and that a strict tenant screening process ensures that the complex will remain a safe place to live.

“There were people that didn’t feel safe when we first came here,” he said. “That’s totally gone now.”

“Stick around and watch us grow,” Joyce said. “We need to work together, and we will work together.”

Also speak at Wednesday’s program were Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) Executive Director Susan Dewey; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Richmond Multifamily Program Center Director Uche Oluku; United Way of Martinsville and Henry County Executive Director Tiffani Underwood; AmeriCorps VISTA member Ben McGarry; CHP Communications Manager Melissa Hammond; and CHP Executive Vice President and CEO Orlando Artze.


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