By: Diana Matthews, The News Reporter
Friday morning, under chilly but sunny conditions, the first tenants moved in at River Bluff Pointe Apartments, a complex envisioned as a shot in the arm for hard-hit Fair Bluff following the devastation of hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
Chaniqua McMillian was one of the first to settle into her apartment.
“It’s brand new,” McMillian said. “I love stuff that’s brand new.” She works in Whiteville but has always lived in Fair Bluff. “I love my town,” she said. “I love the countryside.”
McMillian’s two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor is “beautiful on the inside,” she said. “I’m very excited.”
Managers say the $5 million facility on the southeastern edge of the town has attracted “a very wide, diverse group of people,” some of whom were displaced by the hurricanes of 2016 and 2018.
Miranda Dossie, site manager for River Bluff Pointe, and Sammy Neighbors, regional manager for Landura Property Management, are pictured in front of the Fair Bluff apartments Friday.
Site Manager Miranda Dossie had an appointment scheduled every 15 minutes Friday, allowing each new arrival to visit the office separately for social distancing while signing leases and obtaining keys.
The Town of Fair Bluff owns the complex, located at 16370 Rough and Ready Rd. Landura Property Management, which oversees operations, marketed it via social media, including virtual tours that led potential tenants from room to room.
The online strategy was a success as applicants claimed all 31 units beginning not long after the ribbon-cutting in mid-December. Dossie posted on Facebook Jan. 22 to say, “We are full! As of this morning, we leased our last apartment.”
On the opposite side of the parking lot from McMillian, Bonita Nichols moved into an upstairs three-bedroom apartment Friday morning. She said the rent for the unit was “really affordable.”
Nichols moved to the new complex from Fairmont to be about 15 miles closer to her work as a Columbus County parole officer. She liked the new facility, built by Mills Construction.
Rent starts at $450 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. The majority of the units are two-bedroom apartments for $525, with a few three-bedroom apartments for $550.
Helping Dossie in the office Friday was Sammy Neighbors, a Winston-Salem-based regional property manager for Landura. The company has “well over 200 properties all across the United States,” he said.
Neighbors called River Bluff Pointe “my baby project” and “probably my favorite.” The smallest and newest of the 10 properties he manages, it is “near and dear” to him. He said he liked the spacious layouts.
Bonita Nichols carries cushions into her three-bedroom apartment. Photos by Diana Matthews
“We rent to anybody who qualifies,” Neighbors said. Since some of the units are big enough to accommodate families, he plans to install play equipment in a grassy area in the middle of the complex this summer.
“I hope other developers will come back to this city,” Neighbors said. “It’s been hit by one hurricane after another.”
Neighbors quoted Fair Bluff Mayor Billy Hammond as saying he “wanted [his] people to come home.” Neighbors thought the complex was a hopeful sign for Fair Bluff.
Along with Hammond, Neighbors expressed hope that River Bluff Pointe’s opening will be a step on the way to rebuilding Fair Bluff.
“This is huge for the town,” Neighbors said.