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New owner

Patterson Street Apartments getting makeover

Painting materials outside freshly painted apartments.
Portion of a wing before renovation

News Staff Writer

Nathan Byrd doesn’t live in Atmore, but he now owns property here. Therefore, the Saraland businessman has two goals in mind as he reclaims Patterson Street Apartments, a 77-unit complex that for many years has been a local eyesore and a haven for criminal activity.
“That’s what I’ve been told, that the apartments have a bad reputation,” Byrd said during a phone interview with Atmore News. “I’m trying to do away with a lot of that, get better tenants in and kick out the ones that have been causing the problems. I’m a businessman at the end of the day, so I’m doing it to make money, but I’m trying to clean up that community area at the same time.”
He said every unit in the complex is getting some degree of remodeling, including complete makeovers for several. He also tore down and removed two dilapidated structures that were in front of the complex and is having the parking lots resealed and restriped. All that serves both his goals.
“We tore down a lot of stuff, cleaned up a lot of stuff,” said Byrd, who is the principal in B Squared Property Holdings LLC. “We’re doing pretty much a remake on them, trying to make them a better place, where better tenants want to live.”
District 3 Atmore City Councilwoman Eunice Johnson, who said when she was elected that cleaning up the Patterson Street property would be a priority for her, is happy the new owner is paying some attention to the long-neglected apartments.
“I am so proud to see it,” said Johnson, who has organized annual Patterson Street Cleanup Days that took place in and around the apartments. “When I first started out, I said this was one of the areas I really wanted to see change in. It has come a long way already.”
Based on a flyer distributed to each Patterson Street Apartment resident, the complex’s new rental prices will likely force some older or disabled people to relocate. But, the new landlord said, most of the complex’s residents have been paying the same rents they were paying 40 years ago.
Single-bedroom units were renting at $350 per month but will increase to $550; monthly rents for 2-bedroom units will increase from $400 to $700; a 3-bedroom unit that was renting for $450 will now cost $800 a month; and the rent for 4-bedroom units will jump from $500 to $950.
“The rents are going up, but still not crazy,” Byrd said. “The previous owner had them so cheap, the lowest prices I’ve ever heard, 1980s prices. He probably hasn’t put a dime into the apartments in 20 years. They were kind of just falling apart, dilapidating, so we’re getting that corrected, but we’re also upping the rents to show that they’re being corrected. It will be a cleaner property and a better place to live.”
Also noted in the flyer was the news that “these prices will not be honored by Section 8.” The federal program, for elderly and disabled renters, is the only way many members of either group can afford to rent.
Byrd said he will hate to see elderly tenants fall victim to the reality of the situation, especially since it’s not the elderly who are causing the problems that have plagued the complex.
“We’ve got it down to where I think we only have 18 Section 8 (units), so the rest should be normal, regular paying tenants,” he said. “Most of the ones on Section 8 I don’t have a problem with. Most of them are older, and they mind their own business.
“The ones I have a problem with are the 30-year-olds who are there all day and don’t have a job. That’s the ones causing the problems, the ones who are there 24 hours day with nothing to do.”
Johnson said Atmore has enough income-based apartments, as well as those who only accept senior citizens, to make room for those who are uprooted.
“It’s all about the community coming together,” she said. “The older people (at Patterson Street Apartments) have got other options, apartments that are built specially for the elderly.”
Byrd said any resident (or non-resident) needing information on the remodeling project as it progresses, may contact Property Manager Wanda Smith, who comes to Atmore “about two days week,” but is otherwise available by phone at her Mississippi office (601-678-1974). A maintenance man is on-premises every day.
“I’m a businessman trying to make a good product, but also trying to clean up the neighborhood at the same time,” Byrd said.