D.C. City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) is selling the rundown Southern Hills Apartment complex in Southeast Washington for $2.3 million. Crawford purchased the project in 1982 for $150,000.
"I'm elated, and that's an understatement," Crawford said last week. "The people out there have been so patient, particularly the community leaders who really want to see improvement there. We're sending them a letter thanking them for their patience."
Since Crawford purchased the complex, at 300 Livingston Ter., tenants have complained that repairs have not been made and that they have lived without heat at times. Crawford said last week that he still owes the city about $450,000 in delinquent taxes and assessments against the property.
The Winn Development Corp., which recently renovated the Atlantic Gardens Apartments, located across the street from Southern Hills, is scheduled to purchase the property Wednesday and begin an $11 million renovation.
"Winn Development is going to pay all the bills and all the taxes," Crawford said. "Let's just say I will make a reasonable fee for my service."
Tenants of the complex were skeptical when told of the renovation. "I'll believe it when I see it," said one man who asked not to be identified. "I've lived here since 1983 and they ain't never done anything."
The brownish brick three-story apartment buildings, which sit on a bluff overlooking the southern end of Ward 8, are dirty and half empty. Many of the windows are broken and the units boarded up.
"None of the tenants will have to be displaced during the renovation," said Jack Kerry, director of the Washington office of Winn Development. "We're going to start working on them the day we purchase the apartments . . . . They should be completely renovated in about 14 months," in June of 1987, Kerry said.
He said $10 million for the project would be financed through the sale of city housing bonds, "which we are borrowing, and we will pay back $10.5 million."
The remaining $1 million will be paid by Winn Development. Winn just completed a $6 million renovation of Atlantic Gardens, which has 180 units.
"The tenants at Southern Hills saw what we were doing and they asked us to purchase their buildings," Kerry said. The rents will be subsidized by the federal government for low- and moderate-income families.
"Our lawyer approached Winn Development for us and asked if they could renovate the property," said Betty Vaughan, president of the Southern Hills Apartments Tenants Association. Vaughan said she would not comment on the renovation or Crawford as a landlord until the apartments' sale is final.
Winn Development also recently completed an $8.5 million renovation of the 150-unit Park Road Apartments, at 14th Street and Park Road NW.
Kerry said the work on Southern Hills, which was built between 1947 and 1950, will cost approximately $6 million for construction fees, $2.3 million for the purchase of the buildings, which includes paying the city $450,000 in back taxes and liens, and $3.7 million for other expenses, including interest on construction loans.
"We'll be completely gutting most of the units," Kerry said.
Crawford owes the city outstanding taxes of about $150,000 and assessments of more than $300,000 for city services including repairs of the apartments' heating system, providing fuel oil and water, and trash removal. Tax liens against the property totaled about $15,000 when Crawford purchased the property, according to the council member. Kerry said none of those bills has been paid.
"We have numerous accounts that have to be paid," Crawford said. "We paid a number of them, but there's still a lot owed."
Crawford said he was unable to pay the bills because of insufficient funds. "We tried our best . . . . Some of the rents there are less than $300," Crawford said. "Their rents are far below what it cost just to pay the utilities alone, so you can see why we had a problem."
Rents range from about $200 to $300 a month, according to tenants. Crawford bought the apartments Aug. 2, 1982, from St. John of Rila Eastern Orthodox Monastery of Setauket, N.Y., in a transaction that involved the purchase of the entire stock of an entity called Ambol Realty Corp. CAPTION: Picture, The Winn Development Corp. plans an $11 million renovation of the Southern Hills Apartment complex in Southeast.; Map, no caption