Mayor praises effort to fix homes

Old and forgotten homes around Orangeburg are being given new life.

In 2013, Eli Rozier purchased three properties from Bank of America for $12,500 on Bayne Street with the goal of revitalizing them. They’re located across from Mirmow Field.

Rozier is president of the Avail Group, a real estate investment company specializing in developing commercial and residential properties.

“Our motto is making good neighborhoods great,” Rozier said.

Before being refurbished, the properties were shut off from the public. They had broken front porch steps and boarded-up windows.

Mayor Michael Butler described the homes as, “dilapidated and just sitting there.”

“They gutted it out and put new windows (and) new doors,” Butler said.

The $205,000 project gave the buildings fresh paint jobs, shutters on the windows, banister railings along the front steps and a small garden running along the front of the homes.

The project did not cost the city.

Rozier and the Avail Group started work in the fall of 2014 and completed the construction in the first quarter of 2016. The group is renting the homes, not selling them.

“I’m not a flipper, I’m a long-term investor,” he said.

This is Rozier’s fourth project in Orangeburg.

“I’ve always felt it was somewhat of a hidden gem,” he said.

The Avail Group has brought apartments along King’s Road, on Duncan Street and a student housing complex on Colleton Street.

The group is looking to do future homes and provide more student housing opportunities.

Butler said they have discussed possible work on Maxie Street, Dixon Street and Sprinkle Street.

“It makes me feel that we’re moving forward,” Butler said.

Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Liz Zimmerman Keitt lives in the Bayne Street neighborhood and said the renovations lifted her spirits.

“This just advocates to us that it can be done,” Keitt said.

She hopes to see more projects of this type. She said the work can make Orangeburg look even better.

Keitt said she believes renovations like this will “make people do better” and inspire them keep their property clean as well.