Sunrise auction worries tenants

Staff writer

A decision by 22 local investors to offer Sunrise Townhomes on Eisenhower Dr. for auction July 29 has caused concern among some longtime residents.

Federal tax credits the property received for housing low-income elderly residents expired this year. A new owner could raise rents and rent to whomever.

Irene Richmond, who has lived in the apartments since 2006, said Tuesday that she was nervous because rent could be raised to more than she can afford.

“I’ve been here for seven years, and it feels like home,” she said. “I would hate to have to move somewhere else. I don’t know where I’d go.”

Richmond said she and other residents were taking things one day at a time.

“We’ll just go with whatever happens,” she said. “For now that’s all we can do,”

According to investor Lois Smith, letters explaining the decision to put the property up for auction were sent to residents by both the investors and the auctioneer.

Investors decided it was time to sell four months ago, Doug Sharp said.

“We’re all aging, as we do, and many felt this wasn’t an investment they wanted to pass to their children, and the property had (income) tax credits and those expired, so that feature no longer exists,” he said. “Those are the main reasons.”

Nearby September Apartments, recently purchased by Homestead Affordable Housing, were built at nearly the same time. Unlike September, currently undergoing a needed complete renovation, Sunrise has received no property tax exemptions or revenue bond financing from the city.

Sharp said that while he would be comfortable not selling, the majority of investors decided it was the right move to make.

“The property has been good for us, and it will make someone a good investment property,” Sharp said. “I feel confident we will have significant ‘spirited’ bidders, and if it brings enough it will sell.”

Smith and Sharp said there had been very few problems with the property since it was built in 1997. Property manager Bobby Richmond said the project never has had problems attracting tenants unlike September Apartments.

According to a listing by McCurdy Auction, the property generates $6,600 per month in income and features two duplexes with three bedrooms and one bath, and six duplexes with two bedrooms and one bath. Rent is listed at $400 per month for two bedroom units and $450 per month for three bedroom units. Taxes are listed as being $10,331 per year although county records indicated that with a special assessment the project paid $11,627.82 in property taxes last year.

Each unit has central heating and air, a washer and dryer, and an attached one-car garage. Lawn maintenance and trash collection are provided.

 

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