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Sanford Housing Authority unveils plan to redevelop old properties

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SANFORD, Fla. - There's a new vision for the Sanford Housing Authority's old properties.

The housing complexes were abandoned more than a year ago after WFTV uncovered major problems and the federal government deemed the buildings unsafe.

"It's been very quiet and peaceful," said homeowner Michelle Swan.

Sanford leaders unveiled renderings for new family townhomes and trendy apartments they hope will one day be built on the housing authority’s 47 abandoned acres.

One of the most visible suggestions for change involves taking down fences in the area. When they were put up, they cut off entire sidewalks -- sometimes, entire streets -- from the communities on either side.

The re-developed properties would include at least 209 units of replacement public housing, so former residents could return.

There would also be hundreds of units for middle-income families, a new community center, bike paths, park space and access to the convenience of downtown Sanford.

Mary Robinson is one of the housing authority’s few remaining tenants.

"Do you think this will actually happen?" asked WFTV reporter George Spencer.

"Probably, but don't know how long," replied Robinson.

Before the property can be redeveloped, the old buildings must be demolished, at a cost of $4 million, and $2 million of old debt must be repaid.

According to the housing authority, the process is expected to take years.

The Sanford Housing Authority is still being run by officials at the Orlando Housing Authority.

Officials expect a private developer to work in partnership with the city of Sanford to finance and build the new complexes.