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Gainesville church OKs easement for new housing
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City officials received the green light from an area church on an easement for a new housing development into the church parking lot.

Antioch Baptist Church gave the OK Sunday evening in an email to Chris Davis, Gainesville housing manager.

The city plans to build five affordable homes with a $1 million grant on a piece of property between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Mill Street.

In November, the city requested that access to the homes come through the church’s secondary parking lot for Sunday services. Davis said visibility on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is poor and the city preferred that residents of the homes use Mill Street instead.

“We didn’t want to put people in harm’s way by putting them out onto MLK,” Davis said. “Right there is a curve that impairs your vision, so that was our main intent, to avoid that.”

Davis said city officials also hoped to create a sense of connectivity between the new homeowners and the rest of the community.

“Our goal is to increase home ownership and we want those folks to feel like they are part of that neighborhood,” he said. “I don’t want to build homes with their backs facing the neighborhood.”

Representatives from the church were unavailable for comment Monday, but Davis said the arrangement will benefit the church as well. The city will make improvements to and pave the gravel lot.

Davis said the city is now waiting on the state for the project to move forward.

“The state doesn’t have what they need in terms of policies and procedures that we’re supposed to follow,” he said.

“They still need to put those in place. We’re just getting everything ready so that once they do, we can proceed. We will probably go ahead and start the improvements to the parking lot, because that’s something we can go ahead and get underway.”

The city can go ahead with what Davis called “soft costs” and planning, and the grant will reimburse it. Changes to the property will happen once the state gives the go-ahead.

The homes, once constructed, will be priced between $70,000 and $80,000 and sold to buyers under strict income limits.

Davis said proceeds from sales of these homes would be pumped back into the city housing program for more, similar projects.

“Once these are built and sold, those funds will be rolled back in to build more,” he said. “Hopefully it will continue.”

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