Surf Apartments 1 of 2 local sites being renovated

A historic Crescent City building has gotten new owners and in a few weeks will get a facelift using low income housing tax credit funds.

The Surf Apartments will get roof and sidewalk improvements and a new paint job. Each of its 56 one-bedroom or studio units will receive new kitchen cabinets, flooring, bathtubs and showers and will be handicapped accessible.

It is one of two senior apartment buildings in Crescent City being renovated through a government tax-credit program.

"All the interior units will basically be remodeled and renovated down to the bare walls and brought back," said John Cicerone, general partner of Surf Apartment Investors LP. "We hope to start work some time in February."

Cicerone partnered with Cyrus Youssefi, president of the Sacramento-based CFY Development Inc., to purchase the Surf Apartments in early December. CFY Development will manage the apartment building, which is used for low-income senior housing.

Cicerone has also formed partnerships that own the Hidden Creek Apartments and Summer Park Apartments north of Crescent City near Walmart.

During the Surf Apartments renovation, property managers will be relocating residents in groups of five to other vacant apartments while work is done on their homes, Cicerone said. If the residents can't be housed at the Surf Apartments, CFY Development has made arrangements to house them elsewhere.

"We hope the process will take eight to nine months," Cicerone said.

CFY Development was one of about 150 applicants who applied for tax credit funds through the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, which administers the state and federal low income housing tax programs. The first round of tax credits were awarded to roughly 20 recipients this year, Cicerone said.

The Surf Apartments has dominated the Crescent City skyline for more than 85 years. O.B. Lauff, president of the Bay Hotel Company, began construction on the building in 1926 and opened it as the Lauff Hotel in 1928, according to Esther Ruth Smith's book, "Touring the Old Redwood Highway."

The five-story structure had 70 rooms and hosted movie stars like Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Hopalong Cassidy, according to Smith.

Renamed the Surf in 1954, the building was one of the few in the path of the 1964 tsunami that is still standing, with driftwood and debris stacked against its side. It was refurbished and made into apartments in the 1990s, according to Smith.

Ralph Huggett moved into the Surf Apartments when it began accepting tenants in 1995 and will have to relocate to another apartment while his is being renovated. He said the property managers have given residents an idea when the project will start, but the dates keep changing.

Despite the inconvenience, Huggett said he enjoys living at the Surf Apartments.

"I live on the fourth floor and have a million-dollar view I don't pay anything extra for," he said. "It's fantastic. A very convenient location."

Many of the apartment building's residents don't drive, which makes its close proximity to the library, downtown and grocery stores important, Huggett said.

The Surf Apartments isn't the only local senior housing facility to undergo a renovation project. The Crescent City Senior Apartments on Oregon Street will get a new paint job and sidewalk improvements. Its 38 units will receive new cabinets and vanities, carpeting, windows, new tub surrounds, toilets and kitchen appliances.

According to Michael Burke, vice president of Auburn, Calif.-based AWI Management, which manages the Crescent City Senior Apartments, the owner refinanced the property to gain money to perform the rehab work. The building itself is only 18 years old.

Crescent City Senior Apartments also applied for and received a tax credit this year through the low-income housing tax credit program.

"It's going to be a top-to-bottom remodel," Burke said. "The irony of it is, you look at it and you say 'Wow, it's beautiful!' because it's already well-maintained."

The renovation work will be done in stages with the property managers notifying the tenants of the work's progress, Burke said. None of the residents will have to be relocated. Work is expected to start in March and will last four to six months, Burke said.

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