By Will McClure
Over the years, there are many buildings in town that suffer from wear and tear to the point where things begin to look unappealing, potentially driving away customers and giving the overall impression that the owner does not care for the building. However, this is far from the case of Live Oak Apartments in Stamford as the exterior, as well as the interior of some apartments, are getting a much needed makeover to not only help attract potential renters, but also maintain an atmosphere of pride for the property as workers recently began work on the complex. Property manager Karin Menzel took some time to discuss the history of the property under the current owners and what is being done to help give the complex a "facelift."
Although the complex is currently receiving a lot of updates, it was not too long ago that some other renovations were made. Menzel stated that some apartments were updated as recently as February 2014 when she came on as property manager.
"Shortly after I started working [at Live Oak], we did some of the units. We put new carpet, new light fixtures and new vinyl tiles on the wet areas. Of course, the owner was wanting to upgrade and the rents went up but then we noticed that, for Stamford, the rents were a little bit too high so we just decided to keep some of the units upgraded and then some of the units with no upgrades were what we called the reduced-price units so we could be flexible with our prices," Menzel said. Menzel went on to say that they had seen the need for reduced prices so anyone could be accommodated. Although there is a possibly that rents will go up after the recent upgrades are completed on the units, currently occupied units will not see their rates go up until the end of their lease, if needed, but the only units being renovated that would have the impact on rental rates are the vacant ones as those are the ones that are currently being upgraded.
Currently, workers have already primed the outside of buildings for painting, with the recent weather stalling the priming process. When the weather does clear up, the next job will be to paint the buildings a different color as the priming and chalking process is completed. Along with painting, welders have been working to replace the railings and landings and workers have replaced rotten wood. The playground area will also be painted as well to help make the complex look like "a brand new place."
In addition to the upgrades to the exterior, some interior areas will receive renovations as well with the units' flooring replaced with wood plank flooring instead of carpeting, with the goal being that it will be easier to clean and maintain for the residents as well as help turnover when getting the unit ready to be rented out. The laundry room also received this new wood plank flooring as well. As of this writing, only four of the apartments had the new flooring. Once these items are completed, the owner hopes to also repaint and eventually repair the parking lot as well.
Menzel said that one of the primary reasons for the upgrades was, besides making it look nicer and showing pride in the complex, was that it had been up for sale recently, but due to the poor state of the complex, the sale did not go well. Rather than pursue the sale, it was decided that the complex needed the "makeover" to help attract new occupants. Menzel said that the current owner, who owns several properties across Texas and Oklahoma, has done a lot with the complex since he first acquired it. She noted that when he purchased the complex, it had a bad reputation because of the residents that were there. The owner proceeded to have all but three of the apartments vacated and established a stricter policy on background checks and behavior on the complex. Menzel said that while she has been property manager, the police had only been called a few times, but only for issues with noise. Menzel said that while the complex has struggled with occupancy in the past, with occupancy as low as 40%, the upgrades to the complex both physically and behaviorally have helped Live Oak become a great place to live, with occupancy as high as 98%. Thanks to constant upkeep and a general pride for the property, Live Oak has been able to keep residents happy with a current occupancy rate of 80%. Menzel said that they want to be proud of the property and that the upgrades will be a fresh and welcome change to the complex. As the years go on, wear and tear will eventually require more upgrades, but the pride and passion to make Live Oak Apartments a great place to live will keep it looking nice and accommodating to new, prospective renters.
For more information about Live Oak Apartments and rental rates, feel free to visit www.liveoakstamford.com or call 325-773-3771.