03/26/12 — $4.7 million in renovations done at housing project

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$4.7 million in renovations done at housing project

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 26, 2012 1:46 PM

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Annette Bryant, building manager at Alpha Arms Apartments since its inception nearly 38 years ago, prepares to give a tour of one of the 104 units, which were recently renovated through a $4.7 million HUD grant.

Renovations to 104 units at Alpha Arms Apartments, begun a year ago, are complete.

The project was made possible through a $4.7 million HUD grant, said Jimmie Ford, chairman of the board of directors of Alpha Phi Alpha, the local fraternity responsible for the property, which is a low-income apartment complex subsidized by the federal Housing and Urban Development Division, or HUD.

"We're the oldest black Greek organization in the nation," he explained. "We came together for the project and decided on affordable housing for those in need."

The local chapter of Theta Omicron Lambda first partnered with the Federal Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, agency in the 1970s to bring the apartments to Wayne County.

The fraternity is listed as owners of the property, and its members serve on the board of directors.

The renovation project, which began in March 2011, was much-needed, Ford said.

"Apartments have been completely overhauled inside and out," he said. "All units have been revamped. They went in and put new appliances in, new flooring in, new fixtures in and (roofing was done)."

John Stokes, fraternity president, shared some of the group's history Friday, at a ceremony to celebrate the project's completion.

The chapter, he said, was first organized by eight young men in 1964. They later made an assessment of the community, determining the need for housing for low- to moderate-income people.

After meetings with HUD and approval for funding, construction on the property began, and in 1972, the first apartments were occupied. Now nearly 40 years later, the current group of members gathered to commemorate the renovation project.

"This is a new day and a new chapter in our history," Stokes said. "This is a high day for the chapter. It's also a defining moment in time and we are extremely proud."

Ford also recognized Annette Bryant, building manager since the inception.

"She was here when they first moved in," he said. "She's been here ever since and will continue to be here."