Photo: Tower 7 staff, local officials and community members gather to cut a ceremonial ribbon in front of Tower 7 on July 21. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
Gadsden’s historic Tower 7 opened its doors to the public with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 21.
Located at 745 Walnut Street, the building’s 15 stories overlook downtown Gadsden.
Previously the Holy Comforter House, a retirement home sponsored by Gadsden’s Church of the Holy Comforter, the building was bought at its 2021 foreclosure sale by 745 Walnut, LLC, and subsequently brought under the management of Bay Property Management, LLC.
Tower 7 was converted into an all-ages, general-use apartment building.
Floors 13, 14 and 15 have been completely renovated, according to Frank Zhang, owner of Bay Property Management and facilitator of the Tower 7 renovations. All units on these floors have received updated floors, cabinets, lighting and other amenities.
Previous retirement home residents have been able to keep their units as they are, including paying their old rates, Zhang explained. While refurbished rooms are rented at market-price rates to new tenants, retirement-home residents have been “grandfathered in.”
“On old units, they are still original,” he said. “We touched nothing because [the existing residents] don’t want it, and we’ve got plenty of other things to do. In fact, I think most of the units in the building already pass inspection. We’ve got many rentable units.”
The entire building’s lighting, plumbing and air conditioning systems have been overhauled. Zhang noted that the old pipes were 50 years old and often leaked.
“My job is to minimize expense and maximize income, so I do what I can to minimize expense by providing energy-saving lightbulbs and new plumbing,” he said.
Zhang said the energy and water bills for the building have been cut nearly in half by the new fixtures. The Tower 7 team also plans to install new window blinds in all units to keep residents cool and air conditioning costs down.
The building’s security includes cameras throughout the building and door control that only allows residents with a key fob to enter.
Zhang said one of the building’s most attractive factors is its free high-speed internet.
“I think we can attract remote workers because we have a great building, and we are marketing the property a little bit under market price. I do think it will be very attractive for those working professionals.”
The building’s small studio, studio and one-bedroom floor plans are ideal for seniors, college graduates, young families or anyone looking for a one-to-two-person home, Zhang said.
Rates range from $695/month to $923/month, depending on unit size.
“I don’t think anybody can beat our price,” Zhang said. “You’ve got internet, water, sewer, gas and everything we pay for at just one price.”
Though Zhang said the entire building is rentable, the complex currently has around 70 newly refurbished units available for lease, with more on the way.
Zhang remarked on the progress his team had made and the support they had received from the community.
“We’ve been here about 11 months now, and I feel greatly welcomed from all the members of the community,” he said.
With most of the properties under Zhang’s management in Georgia and Mississippi, Tower 7 is the first Alabama property he has undertaken.
“Gadsden is a great city to do this with, and I think there are more opportunities that will come,” he said. “We definitely want to manage more properties.”
He thanked the Tower 7 and Bay Property Management staff, as well as the Etowah County Chamber of Commerce and other officials present.
“I’m really excited to be here today to help celebrate Mr. Zhang’s progress here, and of course, just give them all of our hope for the future of this building,” said Christi Robinson, president and CEO of the Etowah County Chamber of Commerce.
Zhang said his previous years of experience have allowed him to accomplish a “great building” with the Tower 7 renovations.
“I want to make it better for the community and to see what we can offer,” Zhang said.
Tower 7 is currently accepting applications for its available units.