As regional vice president for Wingate, T. Gene Lockard is the face of Bedford Pine management, the guy under fire when local media—or some of his tenants—slam Wingate as an absentee slumlord raking in tax dollars and ignoring crime and decay. Even Lockard acknowledges some past blame “may have been fair—particularly of upkeep.” But most criticism is misplaced; just as little of Boulevard crime is committed by Bedford Pine residents, neither does a single one of its seventy buildings have a boarded window.
The facts: Bedford Pine has close to 700 apartments, and for each Wingate receives roughly $1,000 a month in subsidies and $72 in rent. Nearby Post Renaissance charges $1,280 a month for a modern two-bedroom flat. With revenue numbers so similar, why do these two products look so different?
“We operate in different worlds,” says Lockard. Some Bedford Pine buildings are a century old, none newer than 1940. Many households are headed by teens. Wingate conducts criminal and credit checks, but HUD mandates accepting eighteen-year-olds—something most landlords wouldn’t do without cosigners and big deposits. The company spends $250,000 on security, donated $20,000 to the Old Fourth Ward patrol, and lets APD use an apartment as a booking center.
But still: $8 million-plus in subsidy income. “We want to reinvest,” says Lockard. Wingate is pushing plans through HUD to build on lots left vacant by a 2005 fire, then redevelop its other property.
Year of Boulevard, Lockard says, has helped Bedford Pine “join the larger neighborhood” instead of being the object of finger-pointing.