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Cambridge Square Apartments Sold, Will Undergo $12 Million Renovation

Cambridge Square Apartments in Covington is under new ownership and is set to undergo a $12 million renovation and modernization.

The eight two-story buildings constructed in 1979 house 200 affordable housing units.

New York-based Fairstead announced its acquisition Monday, adding a second Covington property to its portfolio. It previously purchased and is currently renovating the Colony affordable housing tower in Latonia.

"That was our introduction to the city," said Bobby Byrd, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Development at Fairstead. "We had been thinking about trying to really concentrate on expanding investments in Kentucky for a while."

A partnership with the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) which helps facilitate housing tax credits was crucial to the deal, Byrd explained. "When you get a strong, efficient staff that is collaborative and trying to identify ways to maximize impact and resources towards improvements for the community," the deal worked, Byrd said of KHC.

For the 200-unit rehabilitation project, KHC awarded Fairstead $26 million in tax exempt bonds and more than $1.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits in December 2020 to preserve 60 one-bedroom, 100 two-bedroom and 40 three-bedroom units all of which serve low-income residents and families in the Covington area.

“The revitalization of Cambridge Square is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships can help cities modernize and protect their aging affordable housing assets,” said Byrd said. “Fairstead believes everyone, regardless of income level, deserves a great home and I want to thank the Kentucky Housing Corporation and Mayor Joseph Meyer for sharing in this belief and helping to reimagine Cambridge Square. Approaching affordable housing neighborhoods with a community-first mindset ensures residents will have affordable housing that not only meets their needs but enhances their overall quality-of-life.”

“Kentucky Housing Corporation is proud to partner with developers like Fairstead to expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the state,” said Winston Miller, Kentucky Housing Corporation Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. “At KHC, we believe that affordable housing creates good neighbors. When people have a safe, stable foundation for their success, they are more likely to invest in and enhance their communities. Projects like Cambridge Square are strengthening the communities they serve.”

The Cambridge Square property, located on Promontory Drive off Taylor Mill Road between Latonia and Taylor Mill, will remain fully subsidized housing, Byrd told RCN. But the exterior and interior changes will be dramatic.

"I think what you are going to see is a complete transformation and facelift of the quality of the housing that is there," he said. "Inside there is a pretty comprehensive remake. It's going to look and feel very different."

The exterior and facades will also be modernized.

"The colors and materials are going to change. We are trying to improve not just the units but the overall look and feel of the community," he said.

The landscaping will be improved and a new playground, new community garden, and dog park are also forthcoming, Byrd said. Some of the units will be made more accommodating to a variety of potential tenants who have different needs or age there.

“All families deserve to live in a place they’re proud to call ‘home',” said Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, in a news release issued by the company. “We’re thrilled that Fairstead is investing money and energy into updating the Cambridge Square complex in Covington to elevate its status as an attractive, modern, safe, and affordable community that contributes to the quality of life of our residents.”

“Rehabilitation projects are critical to preserving the supply of affordable housing, and we are pleased that Cambridge Square will continue serving the residents of Covington for years to come,” said Samuel Thorner, Kentucky Housing Corporation Managing Director of Multifamily Programs. “Often, we hear that families have to leave the communities they love to find safe, affordable housing. Projects like Cambridge Square ensure families are able to remain in the place they call home.”

Byrd said that a series of meetings will take place with current residents at Cambridge Square to explain the renovation process as well as details on the residents' temporary relocation.

"We're going to walk through what that looks like with them," Byrd said.

He said that there is "always a mixture" of responses from residents when a renovation project comes along.

"I do a lot of resident meetings. The biggest thing is usually everyone is excited that improvements are coming. Like, who doesn't want new stuff?," Byrd said. "And some people are excited with no concerns, and then some people have some anxieties about how the process looks, and that's natural. So, I expect that everyone will be interested and excited to hear it is happening and everything is in place to make it happen. Then there will be some questions for how it works and the timelines."

The renovation plan at Cambridge Square includes replacing floors, bathrooms, and lighting fixtures in every apartment, as well as installing all new kitchen fixtures and appliances, including microwaves. The plan also looks to address new windows, façade improvements, and HVAC systems as well as new roofs and hot water heaters. Fairstead also plans to make improvements to the community room, playground, and leasing office, along with overall design upgrades to enhance the look and feel of the neighborhood. Finally, the renovation plan includes adding a community garden, dog park, and new picnic areas to further establish a sense of community among residents. 

Fairstead describes itself as a "purpose-driven" company.

"We really look at ourselves as partners in the community with the residents in a holistic manner," Byrd said. "The purpose is really to impact and improve the quality of life of individuals who live in our communities.

"Quality housing is important and should be available to all, and from my perspective personally, that is engagement, going the extra mile, and finding how can we overall help increase the quality of life."

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher