SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Chelsea Investment Corp. has developed nearly 8,000 units of affordable housing since 1992. They know a thing or two about helping people manage change for a successful outcome. That’s why they’ve taken extraordinary steps to help nearly 200 San Diegans adjust while their antiquated 1970s-era building undergoes a $12.5 million makeover.
Patty Connell, 74, is a low-income senior who didn’t want to move. The 12-year resident of San Diego’s Westminster Manor had a hard time accepting that she had to temporarily relocate while her building was being improved and renovated. She said she literally cried and even offered to pay extra rent in order to stay in the building during construction. But now she couldn't be happier.
“I'm like a different person, this is a different transition than I imagined,” said Connell, now in her third month as a temporary resident at The Residence Inn San Diego Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter. “The staff is so polite and kind; they cannot do enough for us. We get out and walk a lot; we’ve discovered a whole new world around here.”
The Residence Inn and San Diego’s historic Lafayette Hotel have welcomed their first wave of new, albeit temporary, residents who are moving in phases according to their floor number at the 16-story Westminster Manor. The building is being transformed after its purchase last fall by a partnership of Chelsea Investment Corp. and Westminster Manor of San Diego, Inc.
“We are thrilled with the way Chelsea is providing for the residents during this renovation period,” said Ron Wagar, Westminster Manor's president. “The residents will be excited when they see how Chelsea is improving their apartment building.”
Instead of opting to convert to market rate apartments, the new ownership ensures that Westminster Manor will remain as affordable senior housing for another 55 years, serving low-income San Diegans age 62 and up.
“Going into this renovation, we recognized that such disruption can be emotional and distressing,” said Jim Schmid, Chelsea’s founder and CEO. “By hiring a full-time social worker at the beginning of the process, we helped our residents manage – and even enjoy – their temporary move. Many of them consider it a vacation of sorts; they have meals, housekeeping services and a series of outings and social events. So far, so good.”
Chelsea’s commitment to its residents’ quality of life may set new standards for best practices in the affordable housing industry.
“Chelsea and Westminster Manor are going the extra mile in their care of the senior residents during construction,” said Rick Gentry, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission. “Their efforts to make sure that the residents are safe and comfortable are well beyond what is required by any regulations.”
The new ownership even took a financial hit by demolishing three of the building’s 155 units in order to expand common areas for the residents. By the end of the year, all tenants will have returned to their 152 studio and one-bedroom apartments to find newly renovated kitchens and bathrooms, energy-efficient appliances, new flooring, paint, and window coverings as well as an expanded community room, library with 10 computer stations, larger laundry facilities, and an improved outdoor space.
One unintended consequence of the renovation and relocation?
“Did the residents know their neighbors before the move? Most probably didn’t,” said Schmid. “This has created a lot of positive cohesion and sense of community.”
Since 1992, Chelsea has developed 7,681 units of affordable housing at a cost in excess of $1.4 billion. The firm’s development portfolio includes urban infill, mixed-use, suburban inclusionary, acquisition rehab and rural developments. Approximately 20 percent of the units developed by Chelsea serve specialized populations, including seniors, farm workers, homeless households, and individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. The company is one of the few fully integrated affordable housing developers in the region that offers turnkey development, general contracting and property/asset management services. Chelsea is a long-term owner and operator and maintains a portfolio in excess of 5,000 affordable housing units. Please visit www.chelseainvestco.com.