JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's a fresh start for the troubled Westside apartment complex Eureka Gardens.
Millennia Housing Development bought the property last year and held an official groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon, when the apartment complex's name was officially changed to Valencia Way and a complete renovation of the low-income housing community was announced.
The News4Jax I-TEAM first exposed the deplorable conditions at the apartment complex roughly three years ago. The I-TEAM's reporting led to a city code enforcement raid that revealed numerous violations.
READ MORE: Eureka Gardens residents plagued with issues
On Wednesday, construction workers were at the apartment complex. News4Jax saw crews working inside and outside several of the units as part of the roughly $24 million worth of renovations.
Improvements to the inside of the units include new kitchens and bathrooms, upgraded appliances, new furnaces and central air conditioning. Work will also be done on the outside of each building. New windows, doors, roofs and lighting will be installed.
“I’m looking forward to a new plumbing system, because the plumbing keeps backing up in our apartments and (I'm) looking forward to the mold getting out of the walls,” said longtime resident Mona Lisa Arnold.
Arnold said she’s also anxious for the gas lines at the complex to be replaced. The original gas lines were built in the 1970s. When there was a leak in the past, gas was shut off to the entire complex for repairs. New technology should eliminate the leaks altogether.
"They say they’re going to fix the gas leaks and the gas lines so (they don't) explode on us," Arnold said.
Previous issues at Eureka Gardens included sewage backups, mold and water leaks.
"If they’re going to do all the things that they said they’re going to do, and going to the walls and take out all the mold in the walls, that’s a plus because there’s a lot of people out here," resident Monica Lewis said.
A new recreation area with gazebos and grills is now in the works, as well as a workout facility and computer room.
Apartments are being worked on in groups of 24. Residents will temporarily move into other vacant units. The entire renovation process is expected to take 18-24 months, with an anticipated completion date of fall 2020.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, as well as representatives from both Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson’s offices, helped cut the ribbon Thursday to celebrate the construction.