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The Bradford apartments have award-worthy appeal
Housing complex receives business beautification honor from Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce
The Bradford apartments at 535 Forrest Ave. in Gainesville were named one of the 2016 winners of The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Business Beautification Awards of Excellence. Part of the renovations included outdoor entertainment areas.

Earlier this year, The Bradford apartments were transformed inside and out.

The apartment complex went from resembling a scene in a 1970s movie to 21st century sleek, modern apartment homes.

For the change, The Bradford was named one of the 2016 winners of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Business Beautification Awards of Excellence.

“I think it’s exciting,” said Leslie White, owner of Resource Property Management LLC, which manages the property. “We were all very excited.”

Initiated 22 years ago by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the Business Beautification Award helps promote attractive and well-maintained areas by recognizing companies who have made beautification efforts to their properties, according to a news release from the Chamber. Robin A. Halstead, vice president of community development for Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said The Bradford received the award because of the property’s major changes.

“There’s not one specific thing that sticks out,” she said. “Just from the way it used to look to how they renovated it. It’s like brand new.”

Halstead said it’s great to see long-standing buildings, such as The Bradford, being revamped and not torn down and replaced.

“Everybody needs to see the before and after because it’s significant,” Halstead said. “It’s like ‘Wow!’ There’s nice curb appeal. It’s very attractive.”

Originally built in 1978, The Bradford housed 10 apartment homes at 535 Forrest Ave. in downtown Gainesville. Those apartments had a darker color scheme with lots of carpeting. Plus, the apartments had no balconies.

Then in 2015, real estate developer McKibbon-Robison purchased The Bradford for $425,000.

The owners recognized the complex’s valuable location in Gainesville, which was the main reason for the purchase. It was within walking distance to the downtown square and had quick, easy access to Brenau University, shopping and medical facilities, White said.

They also realized the apartment-style homes needed cosmetic updating and structural upgrades.

“I don’t think there had been any upgrades since the building had been built,” White said.

Therefore, the new owners started renovating the structure in late 2015 and completed it in February 2016.

The process involved stripping down the apartments to the framing, White said. Next, walls went up and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning appliances were installed. Then cabinetry was updated, and luxury vinyl tile floors were put down.

“As far as the interiors go, the color scheme is totally different,” White said. “We lightened that up.”

The kitchens received upgrades, including stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. And the bathrooms have walk-in, tiled showers.

“It took a team of us,” White said. “We planned it and picked everything out from the colors to the design. We’re very happy.”

The exterior went from plain wood siding to new HardiPlank siding, stone and brick accents and outdoor stairwells. These changes allowed more light into the rear of the buildings, White said.

Plus, new porches and outdoor entertaining areas were added to each unit.

 White said the building is now about 85 percent new.

But the property owners did not just stop at aesthetics. They improved the apartment complex’s efficiency.

“One really cool thing we did was we installed a bladder tank under the building,” White said, adding the tank collects the rainwater. “We recycle and utilize (it) to do the irrigation for the building.”

Now the building features nine units instead of 10. One unit was converted from two studios into one.

Halstead said the renovations help the community as a whole.

“Everybody wants to live in a community that’s attractive,” she said. “It also makes new people feel welcome (and) that we care about our community. I think it speaks volumes about how we are as a community.”

Nominations for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s residential and business beautification awards are accepted all year, but winners are decided once a year. Business beautification award winners are usually announced in October while residential winners are announced in the spring.

This year, The Bradford and Homestar Financial were named business beautification award winners.

Other nominees were:

* The Little Ladybug shopping center, 1185 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

* Ivey Watson Field, 1530 Lee Waldrip Drive, Gainesville

* Gainesville Exploration Academy, 1145 McEver Road, Gainesville

* Stow, Garvin & Glenn, 119 Bradford St. NE, Gainesville

* Northeast Georgia Speech Center Sensory Garden, 604 Washington St. NW, Gainesville

To nominate a business or residence, email Halstead at or call 770-532-6206.