Decatur, GA — The Decatur Housing Authority is working to close on the financing for an 80-unit senior affordable housing project being done in partnership with Columbia Residential.

The address of the project is 515 E. Freeman Street. The development will be located at the corner of Freeman and Sams Streets, near the Avondale MARTA station.

DHA Executive Director Doug Faust said the housing authority is trying to close on the project in about six weeks and begin construction soon. Once construction begins, Faust anticipates the project will be finished in about 18 months.

“It’s a very complex project,” Faust told Decaturish. “There are many layers of financing, including DeKalb County community development through the HOME program, [Department of Community Affairs] funding from the HOME program, DCA tax credits, a construction loan from a bank, so there’s a lot of players, and a lot of pieces. Plus, we’re in an environment where construction prices have accelerated at phenomenal rates. We’re trying to pull all that together and make it happen.”

The Decatur City Commission authorized the city manager to execute an updated commitment letter for a tax allocation district grant during its Aug. 7 regular meeting.

In May 2021, the City Commission provided Columbia Residential and the Decatur Housing Authority with about $438,000 in grant funds to the tax allocation district to cover the infrastructure costs supporting the affordable housing development. The city’s funding was conditional and based upon the developer producing the project and receiving the low-income housing tax credits. The total project cost is estimated to be over $21 million.

In 2021, the Decatur Housing Authority, in partnership with Columbia Residential, was awarded a 9% low-income housing tax credit allocation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to provide funding for the development of phase II of Columbia Senior Residences at Decatur East.

In September 2022, the city commission amended the grant to award it directly to the DHA instead of Decatur East Phase II, LP. This commitment expired in December 2022. DHA has received the low-income housing tax credits, but the closing financing was delayed, City Manager Arnold wrote in a memo.

The commitment letter was extended through Dec. 31, 2023.

Columbia Residential completed Phase I in 2018, which was a 92-unit mixed-income senior community located at 590 E. Freeman Street. The developers are now working on Phase II of that project, and all units will be for seniors aged 62 and older.

“This is planned to be an 80-unit senior community, with 70 of those units restricted as affordable, and that’s at 50% or 60% of the area median income. In addition, there’s 24 project-based vouchers that will help support lower-income residents to reside here,” said Christina Davis, development manager with Columbia Residential, at the Nov. 15, 2021, Decatur City Commission meeting.

The project-based vouchers will come from the Decatur Housing Authority.

The development is the first project to receive support from the city’s East Decatur tax allocation district, a financing mechanism for infrastructure and other public improvements using revenues from the enhanced property tax values from the new development.

“The City of Decatur is pleased to support Columbia Residential and the Decatur Housing Authority’s new senior development at Decatur East,” Mayor Patti Garrett previously said. “It is fitting that this will be the first project to receive funding from the City’s East Decatur Tax Allocation District because the project aligns well with the community’s goals for more affordable and sustainable housing.”

Faust previously said the funding award is a tremendous achievement and asset for the city and its senior residents.

“Decatur East Phase II is an excellent example of how affordable housing should be designed to meet the unique needs of seniors in a vibrant, healthy community that supports growth and economic development,” Faust said.

Additional gap financing for both phases of Decatur East senior housing was provided by DeKalb County Department of Community Development HOME funds, including a $1.6 million secondary mortgage for Phase II.