Updates coming to Paradise

More than a dozen homes in a historic Fort Mill neighborhood will be refurbished through a public/private partnership.

Habitat for Humanity of York County recently received $70,000 from Lowe’s, a home improvement chain with stores in Fort Mill and Indian Land, to help improve the exterior of 18 homes in the Paradise neighborhood. The historically African-American community is in downtown Fort Mill, bordered by Tom Hall Street and Springfield Parkway.

Project organizers with Habitat for Humanity are already working on repairs to nine homes in the neighborhood. Homeowners submitted applications and were accepted if they met all of the qualifications, including having to pay up to 20 percent of the $2,500 project cost and agreeing to work for eight hours alongside Habitat volunteers. Tim Veeck, executive director of York County Habitat, said the projects range in difficulty from repairing roofs and removing dead trees to pressure washing and adding handrails.

Organizers with Habitat plan to host a second meeting in the community to select the other half of homeowners in late June. Those projects are expected to be completed between August and November.

Additional grant funds will support a community do-it-yourself clinic for homeowners and a picnic for residents and project volunteers. Veeck said it’s a new approach to what Habitat has been committed to for decades.

“Habitat has embraced neighborhood revitalization approach to our work; With that is a recognition that people need safe, decent, affordable places to live, but the realization that sometimes the best place for someone to live is their current home,” he said.

The Paradise neighborhood is already on the town’s radar for major infrastructure updates. Last fall Fort Mill, along with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, secured nearly $569,000 in a federally-funded community bock grant, town and county funds to improve sewer lines, roads and signs in the neighborhood. Four abandoned homes will be demolished. Those projects were selected after officials met with residents to get their input.

Residents would also like money to fix homes falling into disrepair. That type of work could not be paid for with the block grant from the town.

The COG is overseeing the revitalization project the block grant is funding. So far, an engineering firm has been selected and completed the surveying work for the sidewalk and water line improvements. The firm is working on the final design which is expected to be completed in July. All environmental approvals and permits will be obtained before then.

Work is expected to begin in September.

Veeck says Habitat is proud to be a part of the community’s revitalization.

“When you think about your home, it’s where you have an accumulation of a lifetime of memories and family events and it’s central to what your life as been over the past years,” he said, “So helping maintain that is so important.”

By Katie Rutland, Staff Reporter with the Fort Mill Times