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Mo Better Buildings

Former big league slugger Mo Vaughn is transforming blighted developments into livable communities

As MoVaughn zips along the Deegan Expressway in his black Range Rover, hesneaks a peek at Yankee Stadium. "I did some great things there," saysthe three-time Red Sox All-Star and 1995 AL MVP, who was forced to retire in2003 due to chronic knee pain. "Though my career didn't end the way Iwanted, seeing it reminds me that I'm still able to do great things in otherways."

Vaughn found anew venue for great things at nearby Thessalonica Court, a 191-unit low-incomedevelopment in the Bronx. Three years ago it was filthy, dilapidated andplagued by drug dealers. "It was horrible," says Vaughn. "Holes inthe walls, everything leaking." With government financing assistance, heand partner Eugene Schneur bought Thessalonica Court and the nearby 95-unitBrookhaven Apartments in December 2004. Since then the two have added eightdevelopments for low-income residents in New York and Wyoming. The oldproperties are completely overhauled, creating livable apartments with visible,day-to-day management. "In some cases tenants haven't seen their building'sowner in 15 or 20 years," says Vaughn. "By our sixth month ofconstruction, when we're finished and people say, 'I appreciate what you'vedone,' that's what it's all about for us."

As Vaughn, 39,gives a tour of Thessalonica Court, walking with a slight limp but otherwise asimposing as he was during his playing days, he proudly points out theimprovements: flower beds out front, keycard access, new tilework in the lobby,updated bathrooms and kitchens, a communal computer room and a network ofsecurity cameras. "There are very few things you can do in life thatbenefit everybody," says Vaughn, who grew up in nearby Norwalk, Conn."We're a for-profit company, but this is a win-win all the wayaround."




The onetime Boston hero is a big hit with his tenants in theBronx.