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Chancellor Manor Makeover 2010

More than a makeover at Burnsville's Chancellor Manor
A remade public housing complex in Burnsville means more services for residents - and fewer police calls. By ALEX EBERT Star Tribune AUGUST 28, 2010 — 10:13PM
ELIZABETH FLORES, STAR TRIBUNE
Children played soccer outside a newly renovated courtyard at the Chancellor Manor pubic housing development. Since the renovation, calls to police have fallen dramatically.
Fresh paint, winding concrete walkways and neatly manicured trees make the apartments and townhouses of Chancellor Manor look more like college dorms than Dakota County's largest subsidized housing development. Yet after a yearlong renovation, people say the biggest change is something you can't see: Not nearly as much crime.
After a
Officials of the city of Burnsville and the county also praise the development's higher curbside appeal, which might yield higher property values in the surrounding area.
The 14-building complex with three-story apartments and two-story townhouses is located near County Rd. 42 and the Burnsville Center.
It was built in 1972 to accommodate federal Section 8 housing vouchers. Most residents are non-English speaking immigrants whose salaries average about $13,000 a year, said Dick Brustad, vice president of the Community Housing Development Corporation, which owns the property.
In the last three decades the "tired and worn-out" property's care started to slide and crime became a serious issue with "less than aggressive oversight," said Mark Ulfers , executive director of the Dakota County Community Development Agency.
management switch -- and more than $24 million from various government and private entities -- the 500 residents are seeing better security, central air and community programming such as English and cooking classes.
Marsha White, center, was surrounded with a hug by her daughters, from left, Kayla White, 16, Krista White, 19, Lexi Wesley, 12, inside their townhouse.
White said that her home has new lighting
fixtures, new central air and new light
fixtures.
Marsha White, center, was surrounded with a hug by her daughters, from left, Kayla
White, 16, Krista White, 19, Lexi Wesley, 12, inside their townhouse. White said that her
home has new lighting fixtures, new central air and new light fixtures.
More
In 2000, Burnsville police received around 600 calls for service from the complex. Drug deals and gang graffiti were commonplace. A man was stabbed to death outside of an
apartment in 2003. A few years later, a man cut himself on the glass of a fire extinguisher box, spilling blood in an apartment and creating an uproar as residents called for improvements.
Fearing the federal government could pull money from the property, Dakota County, US Bank, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development raised enough funds for the private non-profit Community Housing and Development Corp. to buy the 200-unit complex and give it a security and aesthetic makeover.
Cue dozens of security camera installations, reinforced doors with heavy deadbolt locks and magnetic keys and newly unattached garages so residents and police can see clearly what happens in the parking lots.
The result: police calls for service plummeted 32 percent this year. Calls are down to 183 from 272 during the same period last year, said Burnsville Police Officer Casey Buck.
"Since new management came in, typical calls are similar to what you'd see at any apartment complex," Buck said.
And the renovated Chancellor Manor offers more for its residents that have less. English and cooking lessons. Boy Scout meetings. Grade school tutors. It's a "reinvigoration" of services the complex hasn't seen in ages, Ulfers said. Dakota County also opened up 10 units for homeless residents.
The property was scheduled for reassessment last Thursday, and politicians and administrators are speculating that the improved "curbside appeal" and increased safety could lead to higher property values around the once- troubled development.
Although the outcome appears to be rosy, changing was also a big inconvenience said Marsha White, a 10-year resident.
Since the structures were revamped without moving tenants, White let builders into her home as early as 7 a.m. some days to knock out a moldy wall and install new faucets and alarm systems.
Initially, residents were skeptical about the renovations.
There had been minor improvements over the last decade, but none really seemed to make a big difference, White said. But this time seemed like a real change to her.
"This is a 180," she said. "Just because you live in subsidized housing doesn't mean you have to let it go to hell."

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