July 8, 2004 – When Bernadette Crummer gets home from work, she walks into a home that many working-class families would consider a dream. The kitchen opens into a sweeping living and dining space. The bright walls, trim, ceiling fans and ceramic tile look as if they're straight out of the latest issue of a home décor magazine. The view is priceless, with Mahogany Run Golf Course in the foreground and the ocean in the distance between two mountain peaks.
These are just a few of the things that make living at the Lovenlund Apartments complex a pleasure, she says.
"Truly, I really enjoy living at Lovenlund," says Crummer, who is not only a resident but the property manager. "It's quiet and peaceful. Just because it's affordable doesn't mean it has to be low-end. Residents are truly proud to bring their friends around. We've had a good first year."
The bustling construction that characterized the Lovenlund Apartments property for nearly a year is over for now. All that's left to do is some landscaping.
All 99 units of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments are occupied, with a total of about 300 residents, that last of whom moved in upon completion of the final building on March 15.
The development consists of 10 three-story garden-style apartment buildings located between Magens Bay and Estate Peterborg. The complex includes a community center and office, a swimming pool, a children's wading pool, a playground and a computer center with seven stations. And next summer, if all goes as planned, there will be a summer camp for children.
Lovenlund has the best an apartment complex can offer, and with units renting from $524 to $722 a month, they're priced well below the market standard.
"A lot of the residents here moved from private owners where they were paying high rents, so to move here was a break for them," Crummer says.
There is no public transportation serving Lovenlund, but Crummer says most residents either have their own vehicles or carpool to work.
Lovenlund is owned by Reliance Housing Foundation, a not-for-profit developer of affordable housing that's based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Reliance also is developing the Bellevue Village Apartments, an affordable-housing complex on St. John. (See "V.I. Residents to Have Priority for Bellevue Housing".)
Reliance offers renters a homeowner incentive program. Five per cent of each resident's rent, if paid on time, can be used as down payment for the future purchase of a home.
People in the Virgin Islands "have been wonderful to work with," Robert Jackson, president of Reliance Housing Foundation, says. "The V.I. Housing Finance Authority has worked hard to make this program work."
It has worked so well, in fact, that in September construction will begin on Phase 2 of the Lovenlund Apartments. Another 99 units, utilizing the same building plan, are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005.
Until construction begins again, though, life will likely continue to be quiet at Lovenlund.
"Everybody is pretty much at peace," Crummer says. "People are very happy with the quality. They come home from work, the kids play outside, and it's quiet by 10. People are working-class families and appreciate the affordable housing."
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