Condo Talk Has Some Pascagoula Seniors Worried

Hurricane Katrina flooded the Bay Towers with five feet of water, damaging the electrical and plumbing systems.  Owner Elizabeth Arnold did not have flood insurance.

"After Katrina, we refinanced the building to fix it up, but even what we borrowed was not enough," Arnold said.

Arnold says the rent coming in won't cover the loan either. So she and her partners started talking about converting the 43-year-old apartment building into condos.

"We came up with the condo deal because people can still stay here and keep their apartments and that way they have notes fixed up they can afford it. A lot of people will not be able to (afford it), so we'll have investors that would like to invest in them, and they would buy the apartments and rent back to the people," Arnold said.

Arnold hopes to start condo pricing at $47,000 for an efficiency. A bigger apartment would have a bigger price tag.

Arnold shared the plans at a meeting with residents, most of whom live on Social Security. Pandora Rivers is one of them.

"There is no way I can afford to live here. There is no guarantee the maintenance fee would not go up like all condos, and I am stretched to the limit," Rivers said.

Other residents and caretakers aren't sure what to think yet.

"I think it's a lot of confusion.  I think it has not been well thought out, but they are working on it," caretaker Hal Walker said.

Arnold's goal is to make sure the 70 seniors who currently live at the Bay Towers Complex will be able to continue living there. But, she says, the owners have to find a way to keep the business afloat.

Owners say they plan to present their condo plans to the city this month.