RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- The Richmond Park Apartments are in the process of getting up to $10 million in upgrades, and will soon get a new name.
Shawn White, vice president of the management company NM Residential, LLC., said the company purchased the apartment complex in January for $23 million. The complex, purchased at a sheriff's sale, had fallen into disrepair and was in a state of foreclosure.
"We'll be spending $8 million-$10 million (on renovations) when it's all over," said White.
The complex, which is made up of four buildings linked by a central office-retail building, contains 736 units and is now 92-percent occupied. Its occupants make up about 20 percent of Richmond Heights' residences.
The complex, built in phases beginning in 1965 and 1968, has not been the subject of major upgrades since. White said that renovations to the elevators alone will cost $1.1 million.
NM, which owns and operates properties in Michigan, Florida, Tennessee and Ohio -- properties that include multi-family dwellings, commercial sites, restaurants and a driving range -- began work at the Richmond Heights site two months ago.
"It's a great building and Richmond Heights is a great community," White said when asked why NM was interested in the purchase and in spending further on upgrades. "When this building was built, it was the pride and joy of Richmond Heights.
"It's close to two highways and it's next to great communities."
The complex, 444 Richmond Park East, is just east of Richmond Heights Community Park.
White said no current tenants will be made to leave, and that rental costs will remain as they are, despite the money the new owners are putting into the complex. Rental costs now range from $550 to $1,100 per month.
White believes that Millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, generally prefer not to own a home and that they will find the upgraded complex to their liking. He also believes Millennials can be attracted to fill future vacancies.
Improvements under way include the addition of new granite counter tops, cupboards, flooring, bathroom fixtures and appliances in units, as well as new carpeting and doors in hallways. Upgrades are being made to the two indoor garages and to both the property's indoor and outdoor pools. Balcony panels and windows are being replaced.
In the center office building, which was originally built to house retail businesses -- which it did for several decades -- work is taking place that could again make it a bustling place.
White said a fitness room, yoga studio, small party room and a fast casual dining restaurant are being constructed within the building. In addition, an improved entrance will make it better known to visitors the location of the leasing office. The building is being renovated in a luxury resort style.
Councilman Frank Lentine opened a barbershop in the building in 1971. After 45 years in the same, windowless space, he is planning to move his business to a space at the front of the building that will give him a window and better visibility to walk-in customers.
"It's going to be exciting," said Lentine. "I didn't think I'd see this (investment) again here. It's going to be one of the nicest places around."
Lentine also spoke enthusiastically to his fellow council members about the project at City Council's June 28 meeting.
"When I moved in here, this used to be a mini-mall," Lentine said. "I'm the only one left. We used to have Fantz's Steakhouse (until its closing about 15 years ago), that was our big draw."
Lentine recalls meeting the complex's original builder, the late Carl Milstein, who built it along with partners. It was partnership that became Associated Estates, a firm that moved from the city after being sold last year.
"(Milstein) told me this would be a mini-mall with a beauty parlor, barbershop, deli and a restaurant, and that's what we had."
Lentine goes back even further with the property. He moved with his parents at age 7, in 1957, from inner-city Cleveland to a home that is now at the entrance to what became the apartment site. It is there that he still resides.
"This was all woods and my brother and I used to play back here," he said.
Along with the upgrades will come a new name. White said a sign has been ordered to replace the "Richmond Park Apartments" sign with one bearing its new name, "444 Park."
In addition to its new look, White said improved safety measures will include new key fobs and magnetic lock system, and a 64-camera surveillance system, a system that will likely have a few more cameras added as time goes on.
"We work closely with police," White said of security. "All of our residents are welcome to stay, unless we find they're doing something illegal. We don't put up with that."
White said work on the center, retail/office building and the first 200 units to be upgraded is expected to be completed by late July or early August.
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