FLORENCE – The first phase of the Cherry Hill Homes’ transition to the new Sweetwater Ridge apartment complex got underway last week with the official opening demolition.  The project will be completed in three phases and will include an 178 new housing units over five years.  The projected cost/budget for all three phases is approximately $30 million.

“The HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program conversion allowed the Florence Housing Authority to receive the deeds of trust to HUD-owned properties,” explained Housing Authority Executive Director, Rhonda Richardson.

“Receiving clear ownership allowed us to apply for tax credits and other financing to rebuild or renovate properties.”  

Cherry Hill Homes was built in 1952.  It was the first public housing property in the city of Florence and the last property to convert to the RAD program. 

These old units served their purpose and it’s going to be great to have the new units here.  It’s going to be awesome for the new families who live here,” Richardson added. 

The first building phase will replace the current 54 units with 56 new units.  Fifteen buildings will be demolished and replaced with seven two-story residential buildings and one management office/community building.   The community building will have a computer center, fitness center, and laundry facility.  The property will have a covered bus shelter and picnic area with a gazebo.  The entrance to the property will be updated with landscaping and new signage. 

The ten remaining residents were relocated before demolition.  Relocated residents have the right to return once the new apartments are complete.  Florence Housing Authority is paying the relocation costs. 

“When I am asked why this project is going so well in Florence, I say because we had a vision and it never wavered,” said Judy Van Dyke, Vizion Driven Communities Developer.

“We have a trusted team including the FHA Executive Team and board, Lambert Ezell Durham, White Lynn & Collins, Hollyhand Company, and diverse funding sources. The units will meet green standards, including energy star appliances, 9-foot ceilings, washer/dryer connections, and new parking.” 

“There are many changes in District 3.  I want to thank Rhonda Richardson, the board, and especially the staff for this beautiful addition,” said Council Member David Bradley.

”The FHA board and executive leadership has been a tremendous asset to the city of Florence.  This is true leadership and hard work,” added, Mayor Steve Holt.