Senior apartments next to Marlton Square almost complete

Buckingham Place, with Marlton Square on the right.

After years of delays, the Buckingham Place senior apartments is putting its finishing touches and is about to open for business. The building’s current management company is now accepting applications from qualifying seniors.

“There are still spots available, but we anticipate they’ll go fast,” says Peter Barker, President of Barker Management, Inc., which oversees the leasing and operations of the new building. “We should be open within the next month.”

Barker says the building, which has one and two bedroom apartments, will have a social services center that will assist residents on an as-needed basis. On-site staff will help coordinate social activities for the seniors. The complex also has a community room and a barbeque area, which faces a vacant lot and some decaying structures from the dilapidated remnants of the former Santa Barbara Shopping Center.

The Buckingham Place apartments, part of the Marlton Square redevelopment project, was supposed to be a three building complex with 180 units. Only one building with 70 units was completed.

Construction of the affordable senior housing project was 90 percent complete when it was halted in 2008 after the original developer, Buckingham Place Senior Housing LP, filed for bankruptcy.

Community center of Buckingham apartments, with Marlton Square in the background.

A second developer, Meta Housing, took over the project at the end of 2009 and construction resumed in 2010.

“It’s about time,” says neighborhood resident Erica Randall. “They really needed to clean this area up. It was really bad around here. I think it’s going to get better now with the apartments. There’s going to be more people traffic.”

Randall says that prior to the demolition of a great portion of Marlton Square she felt unsafe in the area. “Weird people would hang out and hide in the boarded up buildings. It was scary.” She believes that people living in the building right next to the now vacant lots will deter suspicious individuals from “hanging out” and bring about positive change to a blighted area.

“It seems like a pretty building,” observes Mary McNeill. The 69 year-old stopped by the Buckingham Place apartments to pick up an application. “I never lived in senior housing,” she says. McNeill currently lives with family. “I have chronic diabetes and other problems and wanted to see if I could manage living here.”

Among the requirements for living in the senior complex, tenants must be 62 years or older. A one-bedroom apartment rents for $751 and a two-bedroom for $859.

Seniors interested in applying can pick up applications in person at the Buckingham Place apartments, located at 4020 Buckingham Rd., just south of Martin Luther King Blvd. from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.