The project, at 210 E. Crockett St., is Iglesias’ latest effort at revitalizing a run-down neighborhood. Although the Amber Stone complex will house low-income families, it will have no trouble qualifying as one of the most elegant properties in Beeville.
Iglesias said he wants those who were displaced when his company, Generation Housing Development of Austin, bought the units that had once stood on that property.
At the time, the Windsong Apartments were a broken down collection of WWII-era buildings, housing some of the city’s lowest income residents.
The developer said those former residents have the right of first refusal if they are interested in moving into the Amber Stone development.
“I told the mayor that we’re going to comply with relocation efforts,” Iglesias said.
And that right could be valuable. Iglesias said there already is a waiting list of 252 potential occupants vying for only 54 units.
“We’re reaching out to them,” Iglesias said. But anyone who is interested in leasing one of the units must pre-qualify by filling out the proper paperwork at the complex’s recently opened central office.
Iglesias said some of the former Windsong residents will not be able to qualify for one of the apartments.
“This property is for working families. They have to have a job,” Iglesias said.
Other qualifications include an income of two times the amount that the family has to pay in monthly rent.
“If the rent is $700, they have to be making as least $1,400 a month,” Iglesias said.
Also, residents must meet a number of other criteria to lease a unit in the gated community. An applicant must have no felony convictions, must be able to pass a criminal background check and must not have had any drug charges.
In addition, applicants must not have any debts to other apartment complexes. That includes damage charges or unpaid rents.
The rewards for making the cut will be worth the effort. The occupants will enjoy amenities simply not found in other properties that offer income-adjusted rental rates.
“Generation Housing Development takes pride in the improvement of a community,” Iglesias said. “We’ve done that.”
Residents living in the previous complex were in substandard housing, Iglesias said. That will no longer be the case.
As Iglesias spoke, the office building was buzzing with activity as workers decorated the walls and connected new equipment. Office equipment was being ordered, prospective tenants were being interviewed, workers were hanging art work and mirrors, exercise equipment was waiting to be used, televisions and computers were being connected.
Outside the office building, a waterfall spilled clean liquid into a pool. Iglesias said that, within weeks, a playground and barbecue area will appear near the pool. Decorative fences were being painted and tenant cards were being prepared so that new occupants would be able to gain entrance into the locked compound gates once they have signed their leases.
Iglesias said the apartments will become available between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15. By the end of February, the entire project should be complete and the units should be occupied.
Once the occupants are in their units, they can be assured that the quality of their living arrangements will not deteriorate.
Iglesias said the entire complex will be audited three times a year and every aspect of the operation will be open to inspection.
That will include a walk through of each unit to assure that the residents are complying with the regulations and a review of the files to make sure that each resident is employed and that no one in the complex has a criminal record.
“It’s just an unbelievable program,” Iglesias said of the operation. All problems with the property must be promptly reported and corrected within a certain period of time.
“It brings tears to my eyes that we can bring a property of this caliber to rural America and provide it for a reasonable rate,” Iglesias said. “I love revitalization.”
Of course, the Amber Stone is not Iglesias’ first project. Over the years, the GHD president has been involved in about 18 similar developments and has provided about 3,500 units for residents across the state.
Iglesias said he would like to undertake a second phase of development for the same complex, if funding becomes available. And he already has his eye on making some improvements in other public housing areas within the city.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.