Once an eyesore, Whiskey Bottom complex fetes renovations

June 24, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

For years, the Whiskey Bottom Apartments sat as North Laurel's biggest eyesore, with chipped paint and rotting wood leading many residents to vacate the complex.

Yesterday, officials from Berkshire Property Management celebrated the grand opening of a new clubhouse and some of the newly renovated apartments with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"This is a day that a lot of us didn't think was going to happen," said Don Taylor, president of the company.

About 80 people attended the grand opening, which featured a string trio and a reception attended by company employees, county and state representatives, residents and would-be renters.

From now on the complex will be known as The Seasons.

It has apartments with off-white vinyl siding and green doors and trim.

"What we have tried to do is create a bright, modern look . . . to try and provide a comfortable place for our residents to live," Mr. Taylor said.

Before renovation, the 1,088-unit complex off North Laurel Road was in in desperate need of repair. The name change was part of the plan to overhaul the image, as well as the physical appearance of Whiskey Bottom, company officials said.

Workers have replaced about a quarter of the complex's old blue wooden siding with vinyl.

In about half the apartments, interior walls have been repainted, rooms have been retiled and recarpeted and new appliances have been installed.

"I think it's the most dramatic improvement I've seen anywhere," said Burt Thompson, a resident of the complex for two and a half years.

Residents have said that Whiskey Bottom had became a magnet for drug activity and homeless people because of vacant apartments. But the apartment complex was in bankruptcy and without money to make repairs.

Nearly three years ago, the Berkshire Group -- formerly called the Krupp Cos., a Boston-based mortgage and management firm -- that owns Whiskey Bottom apartments began negotiations for money to pay off loans and pull the dilapidated complex out of the red.

On Sept. 20, 1993, the apartments were scheduled for auction by The Travelers, a Hartford, Conn., company that held the insurance policy on the complex.

But on Sept. 17, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the Berkshire Group a $32 million loan to pay off the debts.

The company was required to use at least $3 million of its own money to repair the worst parts of the complex.

The renovation project included the repair of 75 percent of the apartments. The other 25 percent had been upgraded in 1991 and 1992.

The renovation began last fall and is expected to be completed in mid-to-late 1995.

"I believe we'll have a beautiful community that our residents will be glad to call home," said Terry Henry, regional manager for Berkshire Property Management.

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