NEW BEDFORD- A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today to celebrate the newly-renovated Verdean Gardens housing complex in New Bedford’s south end.

The complex is has been in operation since completion of its construction in 1987. The completion of the renovations, which began in 2016, will allow housing in the structure for another twenty-five years.

The $7-million dollar renovation was launched by Cruz Companies- the oldest and largest minority-owned construction and real estate development firm in the region. Cruz Companies formed a partnership with Rockland Trust, MassDevelopment, and the City of New Bedford to fund the renovation of the complex.

Congressman William Keating (D-MA) spoke at the event as well, highlighting the accomplishments of the project from what he calls a “small-investment” of $350,000 in federal HOME funds from the City of New Bedford.

“A small bit of money up-front produces a great dividend,” Congressman Keating said.

“Seventy-five percent of the businesses and seventy-five percent of the workers come from right here, in New Bedford. So that a local investment at every level” the Congressman said.

The renovations added new paint, flooring, windows, roofs, bathrooms, kitchens, and heating systems to the building, amongst other structural advancements. Cruz Companies also made sure to attribute 50% of project spending with local businesses, and that 60% of the workers hired were people of color.

President and CEO of Cruz Companies John B. Cruz III also spoke of the role Verdean Gardens has on the community, and how important giving back to the community is to him.

“We are pleased to bring Verdean Gardens back to life through this significant renovation. The site has a long history with the Cape Verdean community and we are proud of the jobs, economic development and housing we have been able to support,” Cruz explained.

“When you create opportunities for youth and other people to work, regardless of their ethnicity, in that community that builds pride, that builds hope because they can get a job.”

The event also honored a 96-year old World War II Army veteran who is also a long-time resident of Verdean Gardens. Manuel “Figi” Figueiredo received a Certificate of Appreciation from Congressman Keating and Mr. Cruz to honor the sacrifices he has made for the country and community. Figueiredo served from 1942-1945 in in Europe with the 38th Battalion out of Camp Edwards, the same unit as the father of Mr. Cruz.

It was also revealed at the ceremony that the very apartment Figueiredo lives in today was in-fact his elementary school classroom from the 1930’s.

Congressman William Keating (left) presents Manuel "Figi" Figueiredo (right) with Certificate of Appreciation. Tim Dunn/TSM
Congressman William Keating (left) presents Manuel "Figi" Figueiredo (right) with Certificate of Appreciation. Tim Dunn/TSM

The ceremony also saw one additional Certificate of Appreciation handed out. Mr. Cruz and Congressman Keating rewarded local Community Activist and Vietnam War Veteran John “Buddy” Andrade as well for his role in the projects development, as he helped Cruz Companies to seek out local contractors to complete the renovation.

City Councilor of New Bedford’s Ward-Four Dana Rebeiro, and State Representatives Antonio Cabral and Christopher Markey were also in attendance and spoke at the event.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420