Like a mythical bird rising from the ashes, the Phoenix Apartments in Providence, R.I., has been reborn out of one of the worst developments in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) portfolio.

HUD foreclosed on the former owner several years ago when the project was known as Medina Village. Rhode Island Housing, the state housing finance agency, stepped in to preserve the 83-unit scattered-site development and identify a developer for the rescue effort.

The 26 buildings involved were in disrepair and in danger of losing their project-based Sec. 8 rental assistance. Their poor condition was also contributing to the deterioration of their West End neighborhood.

Omni Development Corp. and Winn­Development took on the challenge of preserving the properties for low-income residents.

Twenty-one buildings were taken down to the studs and rehabbed. Five were so structurally unsound that they had to be demolished and replaced, says Joe Caffey, president of nonprofit Omni Development. There is a mix of one- to four-bedroom units.

Developers reduced the density at sites and acquired vacant properties to improve the neighborhood. They did this while maintaining the original unit and bedroom counts as required by the Sec. 8 contract.

“It has rejuvenated a neighborhood that has been neglected for a long time,” Caffey says. “The project is a good example of a redevelopment that has had a positive impact on a community.”

The $20.9 million development uses Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds as well as low-income housing tax credit equity from National Equity Fund, Inc.

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