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April 26, 2013

Aging Scholars West apartments rejuvenated and replaced with Warehouse Flats

NORMAN — It was hard not to notice the difference when the crime-ridden, 33-unit Scholars West apartments transformed into Warehouse Flats, behind Norman’s iconic Legend’s restaurant on West Lindsey Street.

Gone — the dingy, off-white paint job, rundown exterior and interiors. In their place were industrially styled, chic treatments like red brick-colored paint applied with a dry brush technique on the white-painted bricks, concrete block interior walls to make them look vintage and new landscaping. Inside the units were black open-grid ceilings replacing dirty and damaged drop ceilings, polished concrete on the floors and corrugated metal wainscoting in the bathrooms.  

It was the brainchild of Sean Harshaw, the lead investor, and Margie Harshaw, his mother and a former interior designer and space planner.

“(Scholars West) had been nasty, and the smell with dirty places I just cannot describe,” Margie said. “I wanted to be able to elevate the quality of the properties ... I’m pretty hands-on and used to working with contractors.”

She originally started managing a four-plex for Sean and his various partners. Their businesses grew, with investors that include BMFS Investments and Armored Properties acquiring other properties. Other property owners also tapped her management talents.

Her company Destination Management now manages about 600 units for various property owners in Norman, Oklahoma City, Chickasha and Edmond, with many of them rehabbed and reimagined or in the process.   

Many of those formerly rundown properties, were mostly built in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“I bought probably the worst three apartment complexes in Norman,” Sean said. “We are putting about 50 percent of our acquisition budget into rehabbing these places.”

The group often brings themes to the projects.

“We like themes. We’re into themes,” she said. She credits Sean for having a lot of the vision for improvements on the properties as well.

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