Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Kinneret apartments sold to Fairstead

In December 1968 an open house was held to dedicate the new Kinneret Apartments for low-income elderly people. The developing process began in 1960 when the Central Florida Jewish Community Council president, Flossie Gluckman, learned from Ernie Rapp about a program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Jewish senior housing council was formed. Abe Wise found two acres of land on Lake Lucerne. The founders likened it to the Sea of Galilee and named the future apartments Kinneret.

A second building, Kinneret II, was built in 1979. It housed 112 more apartments and a large kitchen, which enabled a Kosher meal program to be provided.

Real estate company Fairstead recently acquired the Kinneret Apartments from Kinneret Inc. - the Kinneret apartments are owned individually as separate entities, and collectively known as Kinneret Inc. Fairstead will preserve the affordability of the property and embark on a substantial renovation to modernize the seniors' homes.

Additionally, the Kinneret Council on Aging will continue to provide services to residents, including the food pantry and exercise programs, and for Jewish residents, the distribution of Kosher holiday meals and hosting celebrations for Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Kinneret Council on Aging also remains committed to serving the broader Orlando community and will continue to provide and expand services throughout the city.

Fairstead plans to invest $18 million to renovate the buildings, which were completed in 1969 and 1979. The rehabilitation will include façade and roof repairs, common area improvements, modern kitchens and bathrooms, new flooring, senior-friendly accessibility improvements, and upgraded building systems. Fairstead will also install energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and plumbing fixtures in every unit, supporting Florida's climate goals. Affordable rents will be preserved at the buildings, with residents continuing to pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.

"Fairstead is excited to continue expanding in Florida and we look forward to preserving this critical, high-quality housing for seniors in Orlando," said Fairstead CEO Jeffrey Goldberg. "The Kinneret Council on Aging has created a wonderful community for seniors to age in place with access to health care services and fun, engaging events. Fairstead is honored to be selected as the steward for this important property, and to continue our work with the Kinneret Council to serve our seniors. In partnership with Regions Bank, we will invest in upgrading these homes, continue its important focus on community, and improve quality of life."

"We are thrilled to have found a buyer that shares our vision for the future of Kinneret Apartments and the Kinneret Council on Aging, and are even happier that we will continue to be involved in the day-to-day lives of the residents and a thriving part of the Orlando community," said Alison Polejes, KCOA Board president. "As the Kinneret Council on Aging looks forward to our future of serving seniors, we see so much opportunity and also so much need. We have plans in place to grow our offerings and will continue to work hand-in-hand with the support of our community, volunteers, and donors to provide affordable services long into the future."

"When we decided to sell Kinneret Apartments, our first priority was to find a buyer that would commit to extending rent affordability and revitalize the physical buildings - continuing to provide affordable housing to the residents was critical. It was also a priority that we find a buyer that understood what this vibrant community means to the residents, their families and the Orlando community," said Rhonda Pearlman, Kinneret Inc. Board President. "Not only have we owned and managed Kinneret Apartments, but we've visited our own family and friends here, been a part of the residents' lives, spent holidays together, and celebrated milestones. When we found Fairstead we knew we found a buyer with a similar vision. Now we are passing the torch to a company that will continue to enhance these residents' lives, and we will continue to be a part of that legacy as we provide services that are so important to leading an active, healthy life."

Regions Bank and Escambia County Housing Finance Authority provided financing for the acquisition.

"We, at Regions Affordable Housing, are thrilled to be a part of this impactful project, Kinneret Apartments, and are honored to work with our longtime partner again, Fairstead," said Mary O'Connor, senior vice president, Affordable Housing at Regions Bank. "Through this collaboration, we can ensure that Kinneret Apartments continues to serve this dynamic senior community with affordability in downtown Orlando. We look forward to seeing the lives of the tenants be improved upon by Fairstead's vision. And here at Regions, we remain committed to affordable housing, helping meet one of the fundamental needs of our society. We congratulate and thank all our partners involved in this innovative project."

"The mission of the Escambia County Housing Finance Authority is to alleviate the shortage of affordable homes available to low- and middle-income families by making capital available for the purchase, construction, and rehabilitation of high-quality housing," said Shirley Henderson, Chair of the Escambia County Housing Finance Authority. "We are proud to serve 21 counties across Florida and to be a partner with the Orange County Housing Finance Authority and Fairstead at the Kinneret Apartments. Our team has enjoyed touring the Kinneret homes, meeting residents, and visiting the beautiful community. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting rehabilitation and revitalization journey."

The 280 homes serve seniors with a maximum yearly income of $32,100 (between 40-60 percent of the area median income). The preservation of existing affordable housing at the Kinneret community and providing services supports the City of Orlando's goals as an AARP Age-Friendly Community. The City's Age-Friendly Initiative Action Plan named addressing housing as a goal: providing appropriately designed, affordable housing options for older adults along with services to help them age in place. The property aims to help the senior population avoid cost burden or displacement throughout rising housing costs throughout the city.

The Orlando Housing Authority administers the Project Based Voucher program at Kinneret I, and Kinneret II is governed under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 Housing Assistance program.

Christine DeSouza contributed to this article.


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