New Augusta development criticized for lack of affordable units

AUGUSTA,Ga (WJBF) It’s an empty lot off Wrightsboro Road but soon it will be one of the back bones of the revitalization of the Laney Walker Bethlehem neighborhood.

“For a long time we talked about transitioning  neighborhood back to thriving community we talked about viability we talked about livability so quote unquote here we are,” says Hawthorne Welcher, Director of the Housing and Development Department.What’s here is Foundry Place, a 221 until housing and commercial development.

The city’s Urban Redevelopment Agency voting  to advertise the project the first step to having the  agency issue up to $27 million dollars in bonds to finance the development.

The city will be repaid as the developer collect rents which will all be market rate

“The way that I would describe that is it will be for the person who can afford it,” said Welcher.

Former Mayor Bob Young chairs the Urban Redevelopment Agency, and says since city is financing the project, the city should insist on having some units in Foundry place be set aside for lower income.

“I think the city ought to take a hard look on requiring developers who are moving in there have an affordable housing component,” said Young.

Young’s agency can’t tell the housing department want to do with Foundry place but commissioners could insist on having some of the units be set a site for  affordable housing .

“You would like to see that in there,”

“Oh absolutely I’ve always felt that way it’s always been a thorn in the side for me,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.

Commissioners are scheduled to make a final vote to approve the bonds in March if they do not  alter the financing plan by adding affordable housing to development construction is scheduled to begin the by the middle of the year.

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