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Evetts' latest venture will translate into more than 100 rental units in Russellville

When it comes to investing in his home town, Russellville resident Blake Evetts is 'all in.'

In 2022, Evetts opened The Jameson Apartments, a 37-unit complex offering studio efficiency apartments. The Jameson is located in the former Lawrence Place assisted living facility on East Lawrence Street.

Evetts saw a need in Russellville for affordable rental housing and he took a leap of faith, investing more than $1 million in the renovation for the Jameson. Now in its second year of operation, the Jameson is fully occupied.

Less than two years later, Evetts purchased Holiday Plaza Apartments and the Jackson Avenue Townhomes, two properties that will add 64 newly remodeled rental units in Russellville.

We have a real need for conventional rental housing in Russellville. These properties are not going to be government subsidized homes. I'm just trying to fill a need in my community,” Evetts told the FFP in 2022.

After completing a massive renovation of a 67-unit motel-turned-apartment complex in Haleyville, Evetts decided to continue his investment in Russellville.

Holiday Plaza, located behind the Franklin Shopping Center just off St. Clair Street, is a 57-unit complex that, to say the least, is in need of significant repair and renovation. Holiday Plaza is a mix of 1BR/1BA, 1BR/1.5BA, 2BR/1BA, 2BR/2BA and 3BR/2BA units, covering a wide variety of rental housing needs in Russellville.

The purchase of Holiday Plaza Apartments might raise some eyebrows, Evetts said he's confident the complex will quickly fill once the renovation is completed.

People thought I was really crazy for buying (The Imperial Inn) in Haleyville. They said it won't ever rent, but it stays full,” Evetts said. “When people move out of an apartment, I have four or five waiting in line to move in.

Housing is and will always be a need, so we're always looking for a way to fill that need,” he added.

Before undertaking the Holiday Plaza project, Evetts had to get the property vacant. He gave every tenant a notice to vacate, as tenants were living there on a month-to-month basis.

We cannot fix these apartments while people are living there, so everyone was to be out by March. These will be renovated top-to-bottom for this investment to make sense and the property to be what we want it to be after the renovation is complete,” Evetts said. “There were years and years of deferred maintenance. There were needs to be addressed and they were not, so it kind of cascaded.”

Evetts started some preliminary work at Holiday Plaza, including cleanouts of units once vacated and removal of fencing. The plan is for renovations to begin on the single-level units first. Once complete, major renovations of the 2BR units will begin. That plan, Evetts hopes, will allow for a stair-stepped leasing process where he will be receiving at least some income as the renovation progresses.

Before launching into the Holiday Plaza project, Evetts' contractor began a major renovation of the Jackson Avenue Townhomes.

Located at the intersection of North Jackson Avenue and Underwood Road, the Jackson Avenue Townhomes were among Russellville's finest rental property when first constructed.

After looking at the property, Evetts knew he would be buying a 'diamond in the rough' that he believes will be the most premium property he owns.

Six of the seven townhomes are 3BR/2BA, a size most in demand by renters due to a dearth of 3BR rental units. The seventh townhome is a 1BR/1BA.

The project includes new vinyl siding, new windows, new flooring, paint, extra outlets and new countertops and appliances.

This will be the nicest property I own. The transformation will be huge. There's a lot to like about these townhomes. I got inside them and saw 'good bones,'” Evetts said.

Structurally, it's very sound. I didn't realize how many 3BR/2BA units there were and there's a really neat layout. When they were first built, they may have been plans for them to be individually owned like condos. No two units there are the same. Of the six 3BR/2BA, all have something that makes them unique from the others,” he added.

Evetts' investment into his hometown hasn't gone unnoticed by city officials, including Russellville Mayor David Grissom.

The latest two properties (Evetts) bought definitely needed some repairs and we know he will do it right,” Grissom said. “We're glad he made the purchase and investment in our city. It's something we really needed and he and his team are doing a great job so far on the townhomes. We appreciate his investment in Russellville.”

Plans are to have an on-site property manager at Holiday Plaza, and a two-employee team handling the Jameson and the Studio 11 Apartments in Haleyville.

Evetts said he anticipates monthly rents at Holiday Plaza to begin at $675 and up, water included. The 1BR unit at Jackson Avenue will rent for $750/month and the 3BR units for $1,150/month.

We have an oversaturation of low income tax credit housing in Russellville. We think these properties fill that void perfectly for what Russellville needs. Rents will be very affordable but sufficient to return our investment,” Evetts said. “I'm always happy to do things in Russellville, but they have to make sense and cents. These properties checked both boxes for me.”

For leasing information at the Jameson or Jackson Avenue Apartments, call 256-718-2000.



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