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Archiver > GAMEL > 1998-11 > 0910120609

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Subject: [GAMEL-L] Eli Gamel NY>OK
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 14:16:49 EST

Daily Oklahoman Archives

Manager Saves Apartments From City Demolition Order
Steve Lackmeyer

Eli Gamel says his apartment management training dates back to when he was a
child growing up in New York City tenement housing.
Gamel says he has used his experience and common sense to rescue an apartment
complex that the Oklahoma City council slated for the largest residential
demolition in Oklahoma City history.
Last November, the council drew up demolition orders for the former MacArthur
Plaza Apartments, a 39-building complex at 727 N MacArthur Blvd. The order
came after complaints by neighbors and police that the complex was a nest of
criminal activity.

Gamel purchased the complex in January after the former owners became
embroiled in a lawsuit to stop the ordered demolition.
Renamed the Grandville Apartments, the complex is cited by Ward 3 Councilman
Jack Cornett as an example of successful rehabilitation.
"A year ago the place was completely dilapidated," Cornett said.
"It was a complete eyesore and detriment to the neighborhood."
Five months after Gamel assumed the property, Cornett now describes the
apartments as an asset to the community.
"They have absolutely stopped all complaints. It's really exceeded all
expectations of the city council."
Gamel said he has spent more than $1 million to reopen the complex.
He was required to post a $50,000 performance bond with the Oklahoma City to
prove his intentions, Cornett said. Had the demolition proceeded, it would
have been one of the largest, costing up to $300,000.
Since taking over the apartments, Gamel has been busy breathing life into the
complex, which Cornett said has been vacant for several years.
"I have put a lot into this new carpets, new kitchens, new bathrooms more than
just a paint job," Gamel said.
Gamel lives in a unit in the first phase of the complex, which he opened March
1. He boasts of 100 percent occupancy in the 100 units he has opened.
Gamel said he expects remodeling of the remaining 140 units to be completed by
July 15.
"I learned a lot growing up and living in tenement housing," he said. "These
people don't want a lot of promises. Just give them what they need, and they
will give back.
"You have got a lot of owners who are just there to collect the rent. I live
here I wouldn't do that if this weren't a quality place."
What the area's residents needed most, Gamel said, was a secure community.
Only one entrance is open to the complex. A guard registers every person
entering the complex, noting the license tag and purpose of visit.
Gamel restricts the hours during which non-residents may enter the complex. He
also prohibits loitering after 11:30 p.m.
Since opening the complex, Gamel said he has had no burglaries, drug busts or
break-ins. He said police have visited once, in response to a domestic call.
Gamel has also instituted his own "crimestoppers" program.
"I told the people from day one, "If you report people doing drugs here,
you'll get one month free rent.' "
Gamel's next project again stems from his childhood experience in tenement
housing. He remembers the safety of the small store on the ground floor.
"I want to open a convenience store here in the apartments for the residents
only. Instead of the children and the husbands walking down the street with
all that exposure, I want to give them a choice."
Gamel said he wants to provide a place where the children can go to buy a soda
without witnessing a drug deal.
"Even if only 10 percent of the people use it that will be 10 percent."
Cornett said he is interested in the store idea. "They will have no beer sales
and it will really serve the residents," he said.
Gamel said he is pleased with the response of residents. He said he has a
waiting list for four of eight more units to open June 1. He said he has
experienced no problems with rent delinquency.
"There is no reason that all landlords couldn't do this. You just have to look
at the long run. If you keep your residents happy, they are going to keep the
place nice."

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