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Atlanta Street public housing redevelopment likely to begin next year
Project will demolish 131 units, replace with 260 affordable and market rate units
Plans for redevelopment of Gainesville's Green Hunter Homes on Atlanta Street call for relocating hundreds of residents so that Gainesville’s largest housing project can be demolished to make room for new apartments.

With one final signoff, the 131-unit public housing projects on Atlanta Street in Gainesville will be demolished and replaced with more than 260 affordable and market-rate units.

The entire complex,  under the banner Walton Summit, will be redesigned and will include a large green space in the center, as well as a community center and access to resources serving low-income residents.

City Council is set to give formal approval May 3 for the project.

Construction is likely to begin next year, and the new homes are anticipated to open in 2018.

Thirty-nine units will remain public housing, and about 20 percent overall will be priced at market rates.

There are currently 494 public housing units across 13 sites in Gainesville.

The Gainesville Housing Authority has partnered with Marietta-based Walton Communities LLC, which has developed similar housing projects in other Georgia cities, to bring $10 million in cash to the redevelopment through a tax credit program.

Walton has developed 16 affordable housing projects across the state, mostly targeted toward seniors.

Residents began receiving vouchers in March that will allow them to get subsidized housing elsewhere, and all are likely to be relocated before the year ends.

The success of the project, in large part, hinges on how well this relocation process is handled.

“If there will be far fewer low-cost housing units in the new Atlanta Street plan, where are the poor people who would be living there now going to go?” asked Gainesville attorney Arturo Corso. “Are we building other low-cost housing in other places in and around Gainesville?”

Redevelopment plans stem from the fact that the conditions of the existing homes are substandard.

For example, sewage regularly backs up, electrical wiring is not up to code and air conditioning units need replacing.  

Beth Brown, executive director of the Housing Authority, said it would take about $18.1 million to renovate the current homes, which were built in the 1950s.

But with only $1,700 in funding per unit from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is cheaper to tear down the projects and redevelop them than it is to make upgrades, Brown said.

The Housing Authority remains the owner of the land, and all interests will revert to the agency after 15 years.

As for Peppers Market, the convenience store located on the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Atlanta Street, city officials hope it too will be redeveloped to match the new housing complex.

“My hope is that it would present a good redevelopment opportunity for the property owner to provide improved commercial uses to serve Walton Summit and the surrounding neighborhood,” Gainesville Planning Manager Matt Tate said.

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