The Marietta Housing Authority began an effort in 2004 to bulldoze its rental projects and give residents federal housing vouchers allowing them to move wherever they chose, provided a landlord participated in the government’s subsidized housing program.
Some of the almost 42 acres of former public-housing projects have become upscale homes, like the $300,000 to $400,000 luxury homes being constructed at what was once Johnny Walker Homes and Clay Homes.
Though the Housing Authority no longer maintains most subsidized rentals, there’s an almost never-ending need for affordable senior housing, said Ray Buday, executive director of the authority.
“The demand is still such as to warrant these kinds of developments,” Buday said.
The authority has asked for proposals from developers interested in constructing a four-story, 80- to 100-unit senior living development on 3 acres of the 16-acre site that was once a 125-unit rental project called Boston Homes at the corner of Howard and Washington streets.
“This would be the only subsidized housing we would have there, and it would be the only rental housing we would have there,” Buday said.
Proposals will be returned Jan. 8, and while Buday estimates the project will cost between $12 million and $15 million, he said about two-thirds of that is likely to be paid for by housing tax credits.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said nothing is final.
“They’re not sticking their own individual necks out,” Tumlin said. “Basically they’re saying, ‘Mr. Developer, this is what I think would work here. Give us pictures, plans and finances … if we like it, we’ll let you do it.’”
Councilman Anthony Coleman is happy to see senior housing considered for the site but is concerned about what could be done with the remaining part of the property. The Housing Authority has asked the federal government for permission to sell the site but it has not yet been authorized.
“I’d really like to know what they envision and propose for the other 15 acres, as big as that acreage is I think it needs to be more of a mixed-use development there,” Coleman said, suggesting affordable housing units could be combined with the senior units the Housing Authority is proposing.