Seniors at Turtle Creek Residential Community Welcome Extensive Face-Lift to Facility, Salem News, July 10, 2014

Renovations include landscaping, new insulation and windows

BY GEORGE LEVINES STAFF WRITER

—- ” BEVERLY ” A residential community for fixed-income seniors in central Beverly celebrated a $3.8 million renovation Wednesday evening.

Facility residents, politicians and community organizers gathered to enjoy catered food and live music at the updated Turtle Creek apartments. The 109-unit facility made upgrades that improve sustainability, comfort and aesthetics. Refurbished elevators and parking lot, new landscaping and improved insulation were among the improvements.

It’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that everyone here feels the same way,  said resident Bettie McNeill, who moved into Turtle Creek 25 years ago.

Fellow residents applauded McNeill’s remarks in the crowded bingo room where the event’s formalities were held. Three other residents enjoying cigarettes before the festivities agreed that the improvements were welcome and that the project coordination went smoothly, causing only minimal inconvenience to residents.

Harborlight Community Partners, a low- to moderate-income housing provider, oversees the facility, but a host of players came together to make funding for the project possible. Instrumental to the renovations were a pilot program from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and a low-income housing tax credit, Harborlight executive director Andrew DeFranza said.

We wanted to enhance the capital structure of the building itself so that it would be more sustainable fiscally and more comfortable and pleasant for the people that live there,  DeFranza said.

The upgrades were part of an $18.3 million financial restructuring announced in December, and the cost to residents will remain the same even after the updates. As for the taxpayer, initiatives like these alleviate the burden on other state departments and programs, Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein said.

We have a shortage ” as you know ” of affordable senior housing,  Gornstein said, addressing the crowd.

He stressed the importance of seniors remaining independent as long as possible and said that renovations like those at Turtle Creek enable such autonomy.

Prior to this update, the 30-year-old building had only experienced a window upgrade 14 years after initial construction, Harborlight project coordinator Enrique Tamayo said.

This time around, improvements again included new windows but extended to other efficiency improvements, including new insulation, a co-generator and computer system that improves the energy distribution throughout the building.

Construction started in late October 2013 and ended in the middle of last month. Any remaining efforts will focus on minimal tweaks, especially fine-tuning the heating and cooling systems for maximum efficiency, Tamayo said.

Residents differ on the pieces of the project they notice. Some remarked on the cooler hallway temperature, which will eventually rest in the 70- to 74-degree range.

Others commented on the new landscaping, Tamayo said.

Its kind of like the patient just had brain surgery and you’re commenting on the hair,  he said.

The Turtle Creek initiative is only the twelfth HUD pilot program in the country but the fourth in New England, DeFranza said.

Harborlight board President Bob Gillis glossed over the project’s end result to a room of chuckling residents.

The building is basically warmer in the wintertime and cooler in the summertime,  he said. Those are all good things. 

George LeVines can be reached at glevines@salemnews.com and 617-942-1354.

http://www.salemnews.com/local/x1927850803/Seniors-at-Turtle-Creek-residential-community-welcome-extensive-face-lift-to-facility