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Towers Heights public housing demolition could start in August
Tower Heights.jpg
Marietta-based Walton Communities has partnered with the Gainesville Housing Authority in proposing to tear down the 34-unit Tower Heights Apartments public housing complex and build the 160-unit Walton Harbor. - photo by Jeff Gill

Demolition of Tower Heights Apartments public housing complex in Gainesville could start in August, with a replacement project beginning early next year.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given its OK to that phase of work in what will be a mixed-income housing development replacing Tower Heights at 320 Tower Heights Road, east of Pearl Nix Parkway.

Demolition could end in December, with construction of the new Walton Harbor starting in January 2021, said Beth Brown, executive director of the Gainesville Housing Authority.

The construction is expected to last a year, with leasing starting in January 2022.

“This phase will be 81 units with no age restriction and will serve families earning up to 80% area median income,” Brown said.

Area median income is the household income for the median — or middle — household in a region.

The housing authority will be applying for another round of tax credits in May to build an additional 81 units that will serve people 55 years of age and older, Brown said..

“We will find out about that award sometime in late fall,” she said.

The existing Tower Heights complex has 32 units in 16 structures and a community center.

“They were built in 1966 and have been determined to be physically obsolete,” Brown said.

The units are not handicapped-accessible, “nor do they have central heat and air conditioning,” she added.

Under redevelopment plans, existing residents will either receive a housing voucher or be relocated into available public housing units.

The relocation process will run from April to August, Brown said.

“We take the relocation of our families very seriously,” she said. “It is the most sensitive part of the whole process. Demolition … will not begin until all individuals are relocated.”

Overall, “we are excited about the opportunity to expand and improve the supply of affordable housing in Gainesville,” she said.

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