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By Carol Bogart Daily Republic
SUISUN CITY - Linda Smith is elated to learn her apartment is slated to be rehabbed. The renovation could include energy efficient appliances, extensive screening of new tenants and stiff enforcement of rules and regulations regarding fighting and noise.
The 49-year-old retired and disabled grandmother lives at Crystal Manor Apartments, directly across from the old Crystal Middle School site on Cordelia Road. The new owner of the complex is Dawson Holdings Inc., a Sausalito company that specializes in converting old and in some cases poorly maintained apartment buildings into affordable housing.
Suisun City councilmembers have urged Dawson Holdings to work closely with the Suisun City Police Department as the company plans the Crystal Manor rehab. The city 'will not be flexible' on such safety issues as keeping surveillance cameras in place, Councilman Sam Derting said.
City leaders said when police sweep Crystal Manor, people with outstanding warrants are often found there.
Tom Dawson, the company's owner, told the City Council at its Dec. 18 meeting that the won't accept people with domestic violence convictions and registered sexual predators. Because of laws protecting tenants' rights, it's easier to keep people out through careful screening than it is to remove them once they move in, he added.
People who are on the lease may have guests who are not, and sometimes those guests cause problems, Derting said. Tenants in the rehabbed apartments will be told that failing to make troublemakers leave violates the rules. And if the tenant breaks the rules, 'they'll have to find a new place to live,' he said.
Crystal Manor and Continental Apartments, which face each other on opposite sides of Crystal Street, will get matching facades, in keeping with those of the 80 single-family homes Main Street West Partners hopes to build on the old Crystal Middle School site.
Depending on market conditions, the homes could be completed in as little as four years, said Mike Rice of Main Street West Partners. Families with children will likely occupy some of the homes, he added, and a small park without a playground is also planned.
Dawson Holdings wants to build a community center in conjunction with its renovation project. Dawson said services at the center could include 'life skills,' such as how to make a budget or finding employment.
Single tenants, such as Smith, and couples are the target tenants for the apartments.
By working with Dawson Holdings on the complementary exterior designs for both properties, Main Street West hopes to create a new 'gateway' to the city on Cordelia Road, which Derting described as the city's main thoroughfare from the west. Landscaping and 'low profile monumentation,' as Rice described it, would complete the picture.
The apartment tenants will have to meet affordable housing income guidelines. Smith, for example, pays her rent with a Section 8 voucher. Dawson told the City Council he doesn't think anyone will have to move. And because the work will be done in stages, tenants won't be displaced during renovation.
Continental Apartments manager Raymond Price is looking forward to the changes.
'It's just progress,' he said.
Smith called that progress, 'One hundred percent wonderful! That'd be a dream come true for me, it really would.'
The City Council likely will want to sign off on the Dawson Holdings plan, Derting said. Smith said she would like to see that happen 'as soon as possible. Right now. Today.'
Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.