October 30, 2023 - Atlanta Housing recently celebrated the completion of a $36 million renovation of the former Hightower Manor. This transformative project preserved 129 affordable apartment homes for residents aged 55 and older and persons with disabilities, ensuring that the senior and disabled residents of the newly minted James Allen Jr. Place will have a quality, affordable, and healthy place to live and thrive.
The ribbon-cutting was attended by community residents, development partners, and notable dignitaries, including Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Atlanta Housing Chairman Larry Stewart, Columbia Residential President Carmen Chubb, Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President & CEO of Invest Atlanta, Tommy Lowman of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Councilmember Andrea Boone of District 10, Austin Sohr, President & Co-Founder of Matter Health, and Michael Marra, Vice President of Wells Fargo. Several of James Allen Jr.'s family and friends also attended the event. They were frequently recognized as several speakers shared heartfelt, personal stories of Mr. Allen and his lasting impact on the community.
The redevelopment was made possible through collaboration with Atlanta Housing (AH), Invest Atlanta (IA), and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). IA issued $12.8 million in tax-exempt bonds, DCA allocated $1.5 million in low-income housing tax credits, and AH provided $2 million in GAP financing, along with project-based rental subsidies for all 129 units. Wells Fargo played a crucial role in providing equity and construction financing.
James Allen Jr. Place, built in 1982, required extensive renovation to meet modern quality standards and address structural issues. The site was converted to a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) property in 2022. Columbia Residential, through a competitive procurement process, was awarded the right from Atlanta Housing to recapitalize and redevelop the building. This is one of four high-rise redevelopments and one of 17 RAD conversions that AH and Columbia Residential have collaborated on to redevelop. During the renovation, existing residents received priority relocation and assistance.
James Allen Jr. Place now offers new community amenities, such as an arts & crafts room, movie theater, and package room. Common areas, including the community room, laundry room, computer room, meeting room, and fitness room, were expanded or reconfigured to better meet residents' needs. Details were not spared in ensuring residents safety and comfort. The community features a gated entrance, surface parking, new elevators, and a covered entry for pick-ups and drop-offs. Most notably, the property includes a primary healthcare clinic offered exclusively to residents by Matter Health, enhancing healthcare accessibility and undoubtably improving health outcomes.
This redevelopment aligns with Mayor Dickens' goal of creating or preserving 20,000 units of affordable housing over eight years in a city where housing costs are steadily rising. The transformation also addresses rising living costs in the neighborhood by way of the energy-efficient upgrades, including system replacements and plumbing and electrical improvements, which will result in lower utility bills for residents and reduced operating costs
Eugene Jones, Jr., President & CEO of Atlanta Housing, highlighted the successful ‘group project’ as espoused by Mayor Dickens. “This $36 million renovation demonstrates what we can achieve with collaboration between public and private sectors. Atlanta Housing is proud to play a vital role in the renovation and long-term affordability of this historic property, and we are pleased to honor a dedicated, life-long Atlanta Housing leader, James Allen Jr.”
This successful RAD conversion exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships and aligns with Atlanta Housing's mission to preserve quality affordable housing. Most importantly, the transformation fulfills AH’s people-first commitment as we continue to elevate the quality of life for those that we serve.