The Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority held a ceremonial groundbreaking at Cloud Apartments on Tuesday to signal the beginning of the next phase of the Midtown Redevelopment Plan.
This plan, started back in 2012, includes the demolition and redevelopment of Lee Apartments and the renovation of the remainder of the KHRA properties, including Cloud, Dogwood Terrace, Holly Hills, Tiffany Court and the Charlemont apartments.
The demolition of Lee is currently underway and once complete, the 128-unit site will be home to at least 50 townhouses and duplexes. Tuesday’s groundbreaking kicked off the two-year-long renovation process of the remaining properties. Work at Cloud began earlier this month.
“We’re excited about where we’re going in the future,” said Maria Catron, deputy director of the KHRA. “All public housing will be rehabilitated, and there will be no more public housing as we know it in Kingsport when this process is complete. It’ll be affordable housing for all kinds of incomes.”
ABOUT CLOUD APARTMENTS
Cloud Apartments opened in 1952, it has 189 units in more than 30 buildings with a gymnasium, two playgrounds and a satellite office for the Boys & Girls Club.
Rehab work that’s going to take place at Cloud (and the other properties) includes new paint, upgrading the electrical and plumbing, and installing new flooring, kitchens, bathrooms and appliances. Once the rehab is complete, the apartments will convert to a project-based voucher program.
When all is said and done, more than 400 units will have been renovated under this project, impacting the lives of at least 1,000 residents. The entire project is estimated to cost $45 million, including a $3 million commitment from the city of Kingsport.
“As a previous resident (of Cloud) myself I’m excited because I know what change can do for someone and the opportunity it can bring,” said Esther Rodolphe, board chair of the KHRA.
BACK IN TIME
In the lead-up to the renovation work taking place at Cloud Apartments, officials with the KHRA unearthed a bit of history: the original 1939 petition signed by a group of 500 concerned citizens asking for the creation of a housing authority.
Catron said these were the leaders of the community at that time, who took a vision and created the KHRA, which is celebrating its 80th year this year.
“It was a concerned group of citizens who came together and said the conditions that the citizens of Kingsport were living in were not acceptable,” Catron said. “People were living in shanties, they did not have indoor plumbing or water and the citizens came together and said we need to do something to make a difference.”