CLEARWATER — A high-rise affordable housing complex for senior citizens is about to get a little younger, thanks to an $800,000 loan recently approved by the city.
The funding to renovate Prospect Towers of Clearwater Inc., opened in 1972 on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Chestnut Street near downtown, comes from the county and the federal government and will be administered by the city. No city tax dollars are involved in the project, said Geri Campos Lopez, Clearwater's director of economic development.
John Doran, president of the Prospect Towers' board of directors and a former City Council member, said the money will be used to replace or modernize the hot water tanks, air-conditioning system and two elevators in the 17-story, 208-unit building.
The biggest inconvenience to residents has been the air conditioning. The valves and air handlers work inefficiently — sometimes, not at all. "The bottom line is, the system that is used to control units' temperature is hopelessly old and has to be replaced," Doran said.
Sheila Stein, manager of Prospect Towers, said the ultimate goal is to give residents thermostats in their apartments, rather than just hot and cold fans. Diane Newman, 78, who lives in the towers, said she would appreciate the change. "Right now, I'm upstairs freezing so I turn it off," she said.
Stein said the facility's two elevators sometimes get stuck on a floor, inconveniencing residents.
"We're going to spend the necessary amount of money to make them 21st century elevators," Doran said.
And he added that sediment has built up in the building's old hot water tanks, leaving less space for hot water.
The renovations will inevitably cause some inconvenience for residents, especially when replacing the elevators, but it will be minimal, according to Doran.
Each of the three major renovation projects will likely take about seven months or less, and may or may not occur simultaneously.
He added that the renovations won't result in higher rent.
"If rents go up, it'll be because of costs going up, not because of the renovations," he said.
Rent now starts at $432 a month for an efficiency apartment and $554 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, according to the organization's website.
Newman is one resident encouraged that the renovations will soon begin.
"Anything new is always welcome," she said.
Andy Thomason can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters or mail to 710 Court St., Clearwater, 33756.