Housing project where Pharrell lived in Virginia Beach to be sold, renovated

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A New York City-based real estate developer plans to buy and renovate the aging public housing community where music icon Pharrell Williams lived as a child near the Oceanfront.

Atlantis Preservation LP, an entity of the company Fairstead, is in the process of buying the Atlantis Apartment complex off Birdneck Road.

The new owners will renovate the property and plan to renew its Section 8 contract with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development and the Virginia Housing Development Authority. Under the voucher program, residents pay 30% of their income for rent, and landlords are subsidized for the rest.

“The plan is to commence a pretty substantial rehabilitation of the entire project — living units, common areas, grounds and community building,” Fairstead spokeswoman Estelle Chan said at a city meeting Tuesday.

It will cost $14.5 million to renovate the apartments. The sale is expected to close in the spring and renovations will be completed by the end of the summer of 2022.

Atlantis Apartments is currently owned by CP Atlantic L.P., an entity of the Michaels Organization, a real estate firm based out of New Jersey. It was built in 1970 and is spread across almost 12 acres between Virginia Beach Boulevard and Norfolk Avenue. It has 19 two-story residential buildings with 208 apartments.

Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams lived in the Atlantis Apartments complex until he was 7. He has visited Atlantis occasionally over the years and has sent turkeys to be delivered to residents there at Thanksgiving. A few years ago, entertainment outlets announced that Pharrell plans to develop “Atlantis,” a movie musical inspired by his childhood.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach Development Authority, approved up to $39 million in bond issuance for the project. Under state law, the authority can issue revenue bonds to finance multifamily affordable housing without affecting the city’s debt limit.

“We’re just facilitating this transaction, but we’re not taking a financial risk,” said senior city attorney Alex Stiles.

The city council will vote on the matter in January.

Sale of the bonds will finance a government-sponsored tax exempt loan for the project, according to Chan, Fairstead’s spokeswoman, who addressed development authority members via phone.

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125, stacy.parker@pilotonline.com