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Construction on new senior housing expected to begin in June

POSTED: May 28, 2013 12:04 a.m.

Low-income seniors are scheduled to get some more affordable housing options next year when a new apartment complex in the New Holland area is completed.

CRT Realty & Development Inc. is a Southeastern real estate development and consulting firm specializing in senior living communities. The company plans to build a 94-unit apartment complex on Myrtle Street in Hall County, with construction expected to start next month. The project is supported with tax credits from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and could potentially give Brenau University students clinical rotation experience.

CRT founded the Beverly J. Searles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to elderly and disabled residents in affordable housing and other residential communities. Philip Searles, foundation president, said there’s a need for this kind of housing in the Gainesville area.

“This is a mission-based nonprofit,” Searles said. “Our goal is to help seniors live longer, happier, healthier lives and we only see the benefits of working with Brenau.”

David Morrison, university spokesman, said school officials are discussing the idea with the developer. The college would possibly provide supervised clinical services for residents on-site once the project is operational. It would include graduate and doctoral students in all the school’s health professions programs, Morrison said.

“It’s similar to arrangements we already have with other health care institutions in the community, like Longstreet (Clinic) and the hospital,” he said. “But this is as preliminary as preliminary can be.”

The Searles foundation will own the property, and a third party will manage it.

“I’m 33 years old,” Searles said. “I plan on being in the Gainesville market for the next 30 to 40 years.”

The complex is a public-private partnership, said Saralyn Stafford, division director of external affairs for Rural Policy at DCA. The agency is giving the project $860,000 in low-interest housing tax credits for a 15-year compliance period.

Searles sold the credits to get $9 million in equity for project construction. The remaining cost of the project is about $2.5 million.

“A developer sells the credits to generate the cash for the project,” Stafford said.

The development is about 85,600 square feet, which includes 18,000 square feet of common-area space, she said. Seventy-six of the units will be low-income, eight will be for mobility-impaired residents and two will be designed for sight- or hearing-disabled people. The remaining eight are market-rate units.

“It’s cheaper to support than public housing,” Searles said.

Rent will include all utilities. A market feasibility analysis on the project showed that local conditions bode well for the success of the complex. It doesn’t expect to impact other low-income, tax-credit housing communities in the area.

Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc., a private investment firm based in Spartanburg, S.C., has donated about 8 acres for a community park nearby.


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