Texas-based nonprofit plans to take over, make $200,000 in improvements

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2012

SALISBURY — A Texas-based nonprofit plans to buy Yadkin House Apartments, a low-income senior housing development in downtown Salisbury, and make improvements worth about $200,000.

Everyone who lives in the 67-unit building will remain, and management staff will stay the same, said Hans Juhle, president of Chisom Housing Group.

Yadkin House is one of 11 properties across six states that Chisom is buying as part of a portfolio.

“We want to celebrate the historic nature of that building,” Juhle said. “It is a beautiful senior community, conveniently located.”

Built in 1913 as a hotel, the five-story Yadkin House at 210 N. Lee St. became low-income housing for seniors and people with disabilities in 1983.

The current nonprofit owner, American Housing Foundation, declared bankruptcy after the death of the company’s president four years ago, Juhle said.

Since 2008, dozens of properties owned by American Housing Foundation have received essentially no attention or guidance, Juhle wrote in a letter to the city of Salisbury. After years of legal wrangling with creditors, the owner’s entity has emerged from bankruptcy and the assets, including Yadkin House, are being sold off.

Yadkin House provides Section 8 housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The property was at risk of losing its rent-controlled status when it was sold, Juhle said, meaning everyone could have been evicted.

Chisom stepped in to preserve the affordable housing for seniors, he said.

“We also saw an opportunity to enhance and improve the property,” he said.

The exact scope of improvements will depend on the amount of bond funds Chisom receives. But at a minimum, the property will see:

• New smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in every unit

• Upgrades to improve accessibility for people with disabilities

• New energy-efficient, double-paned windows

• Parking lot and sidewalk repairs

• Select improvements to unit interiors as funds allow

Karen Stephenson, community director, said she hopes the improvements will make Yadkin House more appealing to seniors and people with disabilities.

Although the facility is full, the waiting list is shorter than it has been in the past, Stephenson said. Some seniors don’t like the “high-rise” feel of the building, even though it has an elevator, she said.

Residents said they look forward to new windows, so they won’t have to ask for help to open and close them. They also said kitchen improvements, including new cabinets and countertops, are the most pressing need in the building.

Juhle said he was impressed with the sense of community at Yadkin House, as well as its unique appearance and location.

“It’s not just a vanilla box out in the suburbs where somebody found cheap dirt,” he said.

Juhle said he has started discussions with the city to obtain the required Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior improvements. He said he expects to close on the property this month and begin renovations in the spring.

City Council in November passed a resolution in support of the issuance of bonds by the Public Finance Authority to fund the purchase of Yadkin House and improvements. The city has no legal obligation for the debt.

Chisom has applied to the Public Finance Authority for tax-exempt bonds worth no more than $30 million.

American Apartment Management, which specializes in affordable housing property management, will manage Yadkin House. Juhle said the company will hire the staff that currently manages the property.

Chisom has extensive experience across the country buying, building and running affordable housing developments for seniors, he said.

He said a confidentiality clause prevents him from saying how many employees Chisom has and how many communities it serves.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.