Owners to renovate old Park Jefferson apartments
One of South Bend’s largest and oldest apartment complexes has changed hands yet again, and new owners are pledging to renovate without moving tenants with higher rents.
South Bend-based H&A Properties recently announced the purchase of Prosper South Bend, a 739 unit complex built in the early 1970s as “Park Jefferson” at 3001 E. Jefferson Blvd.
“It was a beautiful place at the time in South Bend,” said H&A Properties co-founder Avromi Klor. “I know people who lived there and told us how beautiful it was … Our plan is really to bring it back and let it be something that South Bend and Mishawaka are proud of.”
Rodney Gadson, founder of the non-profit South Bend Tenants Association, said he was concerned Prosper, under his new owners, would become “Western Manor 2”, a reference to the Western Avenue apartment complex that rent increase up to $ 300 in 2019 to pay for renovations.
The rent increases were made by Premier Real Estate Management, based in Wisconsin. As a result, only 25 of the 112 tenants who lived in the complex before the Premier purchase remain there, Gadson said.
Klor and his business partner, Hannah Van, have said this will not happen to Prosper. They will only renovate homes whose tenants want renovations, on the understanding that their rent would increase significantly after the renovation.
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“We don’t need anyone to move,” Van said. “We have 140 (vacant) units ready to go. If we put them online, we always achieve our business plan. It is a good market and there is a lot of demand. We are happy to keep current tenants and keep them at their rates, while still being able to put money into common areas and outdoors.
Rents increase from $ 40 to $ 80 when the lease is renewed, depending on the software most resorts use to calculate market rates, they said.
Van said the company had been monitoring the complex for a long time and was aware of its fire history. Klor said he obtained hundreds of pages of public documents on the fires and brought in inspectors who determined there were no structural or electrical issues posing fire hazards.
The 140 vacant units will be upgraded to a higher standard than those upgraded in Prosper in recent years, but they will not be rented at higher rates than these, Klor said. They plan to renovate the homes within 18 to 24 months.
H&A hired St. Louis-based KDG to manage the resort, a company they say is at the top of its industry, sharing not only its “vision” but its “values.”
The news was welcomed by tenant Kim Volz, an addiction counselor who has lived in the complex with her husband for six years.
They pay $ 695 a month for a room, in a unit she described as “mid-range” because it has new laminate flooring and kitchen fixtures, but old carpeting in the room and older bathroom accessories.
Volz said she hoped the new management company would be more responsive to issues, such as trash cans spilling garbage around the parking lot. She said she couldn’t afford a big rent increase and would move if her increase was too big when her lease was renewed in March.
Gadson said he has received complaints from about 20 Prosper tenants who say they were unable to get the former owner, Atlanta-based DLP, to make repairs.
Gadson expressed his relief upon learning that H&A has said it will not force any tenants to renovate its units. He offered to help the company gain the trust of tenants, as many are wary of the resort’s degradation over the years.
“I would love to work with this group and their clientele because their clientele doesn’t trust them,” Gadson said, “because of past history.”