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September 14, 2015

Work started this month on what will ultimately be a $6 million renovation at The Reserve at Gulf Hills complex on North Washington Avenue in the St. Martin community just north of Ocean Springs. It is one of Jackson County's largest apartment complexes with more than 400 units.

Heritage Properties owns The Reserve and made the decision to make the investment in the property.

"We have fantastic owners," said Michelle Ford, the company's marketing director. "They believe in bringing value to the residents. This isn't something new for Heritage to do. They are continually reinvesting."

The renovations are extensive, beginning with remodeling of each of the complexes 408 units. Flooring, currently consisting of carpet and vinyl tile, will be replaced with plank flooring throughout the living room, kitchen, dining and bathroom areas, and upgraded carpet in the bedrooms.

In addition, each kitchen will be completely remodeled, with new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, custom cabinetry and under mount sinks with new fixtures. The bathrooms will also receive custom cabinetry and granite countertops.

Designer lighting and new paint will also be part of the apartment renovations.

Reserve residents were understandably pleased to learn of the project, which was announced to all tenants last week.

"It's good they're doing these renovations," said resident Sunshine Mann. "The complex needed the upgrade. I'm excited about it. When it's done, I'm ready to switch to a new apartment. We're just waiting for one to be ready."

Richard Styron, who has resided at the Reserve since 2012, agreed.

"I think it's great," Styron said. "It's going to improve the complex immensely."

But the upgrades don't end with the individual units.

A new activity center will be constructed which will house a cardio-workout room, weight room and tanning room, a movie theatre, fully-equipped kitchen, conference room, recreational area and media center.

A second pool will also be constructed, including a sun deck, shuffle board and bocce ball areas. A second playground will also be erected.

"With all the new amenities -- the pool, the activity center -- it's going to be great for families," Styron said. "I think it will definitely attract more people here."

Both the new pool and activity center will be constructed at the back of the Reserve property, Lewis said, "near the existing maintenance building, which will be torn down and a new one built where the basketball court currently sits.

The Reserve was constructed in 1999-2000, with Phase I opening to residents in 1999. Currently, the complex sits at about 80 percent occupancy, according to Reserve manager Bethany Lewis.

The project began this month with crews renovating currently vacant apartments. Each unit renovation will take approximately 60-90 days to complete with the entire $6 million renovation scheduled to take 18 to 24 months.

Once renovations to vacant apartments are completed, the Reserve staff will begin the process of moving current tenants into a new apartment to allow for renovations to those units which are currently occupied.

Lewis said residents will have the option of keeping their current apartment, but to do so will have to make arrangements to move off property, at their own expense, until the renovations to their apartment are complete.

Tenants will not be required to pay new deposits or other fees when they move into a remodeled unit, Lewis said. Additionally, rent will not be raised in the wake of the renovations, although she added rental rate are based on current market rates and always subject to change.

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