Sunday, May 04, 2008

Willows eyesore gets major makeover

Willows eyesore gets major makeover
By Sam Bhagwat
of The Valley Mirror

Willows – Welcome to the new Sycamore West.

Realtor Kay French of Livermore and investor Ron Mort of McCloud bought the property and moved on-site on March 17. One month and $175,000 later, passers-by can barely recognize it.

It’s got a new, dark brown exterior. Letters on the buildings. New counters. Repainted and retextured walls. Repainted railings. New fences. New carpets. No more pool.

Relandscaping, new windows and siding, and a paved parking lot are future possibilities.

What it needs now are residents: only 17 of its 46 units are filled, up from 15 a month ago. One of the new residents moved because of the new improvements, and the other was new to town and never saw the old building.

Its emptiness could have been due to its bad reputation and former run-down appearance.

That’s something the new owners are determined to change.

Fixing the appearance was the duo’s “first priority,” Ms. French said.

“It used to be the pride of the community,” Mr. Mort said. “We hope it can be again.”

They’ve heard good things about the place’s appearance over and over again.

“We were hoping for a good reward,” Mr. Mort said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things.”

At a joint meeting of the planning commission and city council Tuesday, the comment of developer Forrest Sprague – “praise God someone did something with it” – resounded with agreement.

One resident, Araceli Arteaga, said the changes were “nice” but noted that the already-occupied apartments hadn’t yet been remodeled.

Mr. French said those would take place slowly over the next year or two as current residents move out.

“We’ll be here as long as it takes to make things right,” he said.

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