ST. PETERSBURG — Last month the St. Petersburg Housing Authority held a party to celebrate taking back control of Jordan Park.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Pinellas County Urban League president Watson Haynes were among those who attended the April 22 festivities at the housing complex near 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue S.
Now begins the work of repairing Jordan Park.
The housing authority has issued an $800,000 contract for new air conditioning units and will spend another $200,000 on new front and back doors for some residents.
Last summer Jordan Park drew attention after residents complained about rats, mold, inoperable appliances and other problems. They said the management company hired by then-owners Jordan Park Development Partners — a partnership of the Richman Group of Florida and Landex of Jacksonville — had been unresponsive to their complaints.
The housing authority, which previously owned Jordan Park, bought it back in March, vowing to fix the problems at the 237-unit community in the city's historic African-American district. The agency paid nothing to take over the 24-acre property other than closing costs.
Chief operating officer Melinda Perry said the $800,000 air conditioning contract and $200,000 doors contract are the first of an initial $2 million that the housing authority plans to spend on repairs and other work. She also said the housing authority has hired an onsite social services officer.
"Right now we are just trying to build relationships with the residents, letting them know that we care and address any concerns they may have," Perry said.
Sylvia Norris, 64, whose house once smelled of the moth balls she used to repel the rats that plagued her, said she is satisfied with the steps the housing authority has taken.
"They have a meeting with us every week to keep us informed about everything. And the new office staff is really nice," she said. "Right now, I've got to give them a chance."