Lynchburg apartment building for the elderly gets $3 million facelift

The video at right is from The News & Advance website, showing the reconstruction at the Frank Roane Apartments, and with commentary from Connie Snavely. There will be a short advertisement before the 1:25 video.

News & Advance Logoby Justin Faulconer, March 16, 2015 ♦ 

For 35 years, the Frank Roane building at 900 Federal Street has provided apartment housing for Lynchburg residents ages 62 and older.

Work being done in the building.

Steve Patrick with Johnson’s Modern Electric works on installing the new electrical system to Frank Roane apartments on Federal Street on Monday. Photo by Jill Nance

The brick four-story structure in the heart of the city’s Federal Hill Historic District remains in solid shape, according to Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship leaders, but hasn’t had a makeover in its run as a low-income housing provider — until now. A $3.3 million renovation project kicked off in recent months to upgrade the 26-unit complex with a full slate of improvements. “It was in need of a major facelift,” said Connie Snavely, associate director of Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship, of the historic site. LCF provides housing and support programs for lower-income and disabled residents throughout Central Virginia and advocates for the underprivileged. Residents had to be temporarily relocated to other places with the nonprofit’s help while the work is ongoing and will return when it’s complete, Snavely said.

The Frank Roane apartment building

The Frank Roane apartments that are currently being renovated. Photo by Jill Nance

The building was constructed in 1899 as Lynchburg High School and later became Frank Roane Elementary School. In 1980, the property was converted into apartments. The building did not have central heating or cooling so baseboard heat and window air conditioning have been used, Snavely said. The improvements include central heating and ventilation and reworked windows, among others. Roll-in showers, wider doors, “grab bars,” lower cabinets and larger bathrooms are among features Snavely said will make the building easier to use for disabled tenants and their guests. “We’re making all the apartments accessible,” said John Fritts, project superintendent of North Carolina-based Davie Construction Co. The renovation is being done through low-income tax credits and state and federal tax credits, Snavely said. The National Park Service, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, will look over the work when it is completed and the Virginia Housing Development Authority is deeply involved in oversight. A new sprinkler system, kitchens, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, an elevator upgrade and energy efficient appliances are part of the revamp. The majority of apartments will meet universal design requirements in an effort to make the site more “user friendly,” Snavely said. Certain energy efficient guidelines will be met in the renovation. Residents will find their electric bills decreasing by a third to nearly half with the improvements, she said. “They are more comfortable, whether it be winter or summer,” Snavely said. Fritts said the work is targeted for completion in July. About 40 workers, from plumbers to electricians, are on site in a given day, he said. During a walkthrough Monday, Snavely pointed out differences in layout from room to room. “You don’t end up with all the same cookie cutter apartments,” she said. The renovation will not alter the site’s strict purpose to serve the elderly and only enhances that mission, Snavely said. “We want our housing to be the best it can be.”

Contact Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5556 or by email. Find him on Twitter: @jrfaulconer. On Facebook: The News & Advance City Beat.