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St. Giles Manor renovations complete
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St. Giles Manor Board of Directors cut the ribbon celebrating the completion of the facility’s renovations.
PINELLAS PARK – Residents of St. Giles Manor wore lime green T-shirts to the rededication of their 30-year-old building April 13.

“I Survived St. Giles Manor Renovations!!!!” each shirt triumphantly read.

“The residents were very, very patient,” the manor’s manager Dawn Adams later said. “It was a lot of work. In the scheme of things, it was worth it. I’m really happy with the results.”

Construction on the low-income senior residence at 5041 82nd Ave. N. began April 7 2010. Renovations included the manor’s common areas – the lobby, mailboxes, offices and laundry room – the apartments themselves, a modernization of mechanical, heating and air conditioning systems and the building’s roof and windows.

“I’m trying to think of anything that wasn’t redone,” Adams said.

Residents were able to stay in their apartments during the duration of the yearlong construction, with the exception of seven days in which their individual apartments were renovated, four at a time. More living space and a balcony were added to each apartment unit, and the layout slightly altered. Everything, from the floor, cabinets and overhead lighting to the kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, was replaced.

“I love it all,” said 87-year-old resident Bella Welch, who’s been living at St. Giles for the past seven years. “Everything is brand new. I’m happy.”

Welch showed off her fifth-story apartment to her friends after the ceremony.

“They sure made an improvement, Bella, from when we were here before,” said Ginny Ohl, 93, of Pinellas Park.

Her daughter Sherry Nelson agreed.

“Now I’m 69, and I would live in here, no problem,” she said. “I bet they have a much longer waiting list to get in here now.”

Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida Dabney Smith blessed the building before a ribbon cutting during the ceremony, which was attended by several city officials as well as those directly affiliated with the residence.

“This is an amazing facility, and it does my heart good to come here and to see the appreciation that the residents show for having such a wonderful place to live,” St. Giles Manor Board of Directors President Dan Lemon said during the ceremony.

He added that the residents initially had misgivings about the renovations, some suggesting that they would move to the second St. Giles Manor facility, currently under construction near the Pinellas Park Senior Center on 59th Street.

“The residents, understandably, were very concerned about what we were going to do to their place that they live and call home. All I said was, ‘Wait till we’re through,’ ” Lemon said. “If you have not been here before, you cannot appreciate how great it is today. I’m sure the residents will probably verify this.”

The renovations at St. Giles Manor are about five years in the making, Adams said. The nonprofit organization that runs the facility was able to receive funding for the project through the Tax Credit Exchange Program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

St. Giles Manor accepts residents 62 years or older, offering rent for its one-bedroom units based on income levels.
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