Cornerstone Village, a mobile home park on Carbondale’s north side, is getting more than a new name.
Tim Coleman, the property manager, said he is committed to improving the quality of life for the residents of what used to be The Crossings.
He said he is focused on renovating the mobile homes his company owns, repaving the streets and landscaping the grounds.
“We pride ourselves on offering the highest quality low-income housing in the business,” he said.
John Gonzalez, owner of John’s Affordable Handy Work in Carbondale, was contracted to do general maintenance on the homes after Coleman’s company bought the property last spring. He said he’s heard positive feedback from the park’s residents.
“There’s been a drastic difference — everyone in the park is happy about the changes,” he said.
Park resident B. L. Wiley has lived there for four years. She said she’s seen a big improvement since Coleman took over as manager in May 2011. Before, the trash wasn’t picked up and the grass didn’t get mowed regularly because the park’s previous owners didn’t pay their bills, she said.
“Sometimes the grass would be up to my knees,” Wiley said.
Coleman said he hopes to attract families and college students by providing attractive yet affordable housing and he could customize lease agreements for students who didn’t need local housing for an entire year.
Coleman said he believes in connecting to the community and helping low-income families, especially children.
He said he bought about 30 bicycles at a police auction several months ago and sent them to St. Louis for refurbishing. He said he plans to donate them to the Carbondale Boys & Girls Club.
In addition to renovating the units, Coleman said he wants to convert a building adjacent to the park into a combination self-service laundry and convenience store.
“Many folks out here don’t have a car, so it’s hard for them to get into Carbondale to buy groceries or do their laundry,” he said.
Coleman and co-manager Bruce Pevey live in Savannah, Ga., where their property management company, Market Street Capital, is based. They travel to Carbondale three or four days a month to coordinate with local contractors.
Pevey, who is in charge of maintenance, said he deals with about a dozen local companies for materials and supplies and that buying local is a top priority with his company.
Coleman said the company has invested about $300,000 in the property so far. He said they’ve also been working with the city of Carbondale to clear up the property’s code violations.
“Carbondale has been at the top of the list of cities I’ve worked with. The whole department has been great and in particular, Kevin Baity,” Coleman said, referring to the city manager.
Coleman said they planned to upgrade 24 to 30 homes each year, and it would take about five years to complete the renovations. They began by installing new skirting, pressure-washing the siding, repairing windows and doors and adding hand railings to the units along the front row facing Route 51.
Wiley said she thinks Coleman is serious about his commitment to improve living conditions in the park and make it feel like a real community.
“He does a lot of little extras for us, like buying ice cream for the kids,” she said.
For her birthday, she said, Coleman brought shrimp and crab legs from Savannah and cooked them outside on a grill. About a dozen of her neighbors celebrated with her that evening.
“He goes above and beyond,” Wiley said.