2006 Magnolia Awards

Affordable Rental Housing Finalists

Heritage Corner and Heritage Row Apartments

Mercy Housing

Heritage Corner and Heritage Row Apartments are part of Mercy Housing's ongoing effort to rehabilitate housing in historic Savannah and increase the opportunities available to area residents for quality, affordable, service-enriched housing.

Most recently, Mercy Housing transformed the old Ogeechee Apartments, constructed around 1910, into the 32 amenity-filled units of Heritage Corner. A mixture of one, two- and three-bedroom affordable rental units replaced the 50-unit property. The site also includes a community room, on-site laundry facilities, landscaped courtyards, a community garden, and a tot lot. Nearby, a branch of the public library operates out of one of four newly renovated buildings.

Five blocks away, Mercy Housing rehabilitated 23 two-bedroom units in a circa 1912 row house and added a landscaped courtyard, gazebo, picnic area, and off-street parking. In addition, Mercy Housing developed 11 vacant lots with five duplexes and a single-family home. The entire project yielded 70 units targeted to families, with most reserved for families earning 50% AMI or below.

The $9.2 million project, funded primarily through state and federal housing tax credits and historic tax credits, goes beyond basic housing needs to provide services through a Resident Services Coordinator. The activities are aimed at improving residents' life skills and encouraging active community participation.

Harvest Home Apartments

Partnership Housing Affordable to Society Everywhere, Inc. (PHASE)

Bainbridge and Southwest Georgia welcome many domestic seasonal farmworkers each year. Many of these workers are of Hispanic descent with little understanding of the English language. No matter their national origin, most of the workers are poorly educated with minimal literacy. They often live in substandard, overcrowded conditions.

PHASE responded by building Harvest Home Apartments, a 22-unit multi-family development that provides a safe, decent and affordable housing choice for the area's seasonal farm labor community. The three-acre complex provides 100% project rental assistance for qualified applicants. In every Harvest Home family, the head of household earns at least 51% of their income from farm labor employment.

At Harvest Home Apartments, PHASE, Inc. developed a comprehensive resident supportive services program called "HOTSTUF" - Housing Opportunities, Training and Support to Uplift Families. HOTSTUF's objective is to provide a supportive environment to increase family sufficiency where renters can learn the principles of successful homeownership. The majority of HOTSTUF activities are carried out in Harvest Home's Community Room. The Community Room is equipped with a computer lab, library, community bank depository and exercise area, where many of HOTSTUF activities are carried out in joint ventures with community partners.  Activities included under the HOTSTUF program include educational and literacy programs for children and adults, including English as a Second Language, GED preparation, financial literacy, effective parenting, employment training, adult vocational instruction and job placement.

Harvest Home Apartments was financed under the USDA Rural Development 514/516 Farm Labor Housing Program and a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta Affordable Housing Program.

WINNER: Kirkwood Gardens Apartments

Initiative for Affordable Housing Inc.

The Initiative for Affordable Housing Inc. undertook the Kirkwood Gardens Apartments project to address both the general lack of affordable housing in metro Atlanta and the gentrification of in-town neighborhoods. Gentrification occurs when middle class or affluent residents buy deteriorating urban property and renovate it, displacing lower income families and making affordable housing harder to find. This was happening in the Kirkwood neighborhood of East Atlanta.

Kirkwood Gardens met the goal of preserving and improving affordable in-town rental housing in East Atlanta by rehabilitating a dilapidated apartment complex into 43 one- and two-bedroom apartments. The mixed-income community includes 80% affordable units and 20% that rent at market rate. Designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient, Kirkwood Gardens is the first EarthCraft certified multi-family rehab property in the country, which includes tankless hot water heaters. As such, it demonstrates that rehabilitated housing can be both environmentally responsible and affordable.

The revitalization of Kirkwood Gardens Apartments allowed many longtime residents to stay in the Kirkwood area, enjoying the site's water features, gazebos, and community BBQ area. The community supports its residents through social services and activities, in addition to intensive services for families in the agency's Homeless Program.

The creation of Kirkwood Gardens Apartments was funded through DCA HOME/CHDO funds, the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program (AHP), Enterprise Social Investment Corporation, Initiative for Affordable Housing, Inc., and Mountain National Bank.

Creative Partnerships Finalists

WINNER: Ashley Riverside

The Integral Group, Albany Housing Authority, and Albany Tomorrow, Inc.

Floodwaters washed away much of Albany's central business district and affordable housing in 1994, including Washington Homes, one of the city's largest public housing developments. The City government and the Albany Housing Authority were left with the task of constructing replacement housing while also undertaking rebuilding efforts for the rest of the downtown area.

A unique partnership developed among the City of Albany, the Albany Housing Authority, Albany Tomorrow, HUD, FEMA, DCA and The Integral Group. To address the problem, agency partners optimized funding from FEMA and HUD plus payments from flood insurance, a Community Development Block Grant, and over $7 million from housing tax credit investors. Meeting all of the stipulations of the various funding sources posed a particularly difficult challenge for the group, yet they succeeded with Ashley Riverside.

As Albany's first large-scale, mixed-income residential community, Ashley Riverside was completed in 2004 and covers more than 10 acres within a block of Albany's central business district. It contains units to serve residents at three different income levels - 40 public housing units, 65 affordable tax credit units, and 27 market rate units. Residents choose among a combination of one, two, and three-bedroom garden style and town home units. The development has served as a catalyst in the rebirth of downtown Albany. It also sets a trend for social and economic integration in the city.

Grier Manor

Rice Family Farms Consortium, LowCom Development, and The Paces Foundation

Henry County and the City of McDonough have welcomed significant development in recent years, but the Blacksville Community within the county had not seen any new housing in more than three decades. There also was no affordable rental housing for the county's senior citizens. Grier Manor, which provides 64 affordable, amenity-enriched apartments for people ages 55 and over, answered those needs. But it also set the stage for more affordable housing by equipping non-profit developers for the task.

Harold A. Grier, Ph.D., a lifelong McDonough resident, donated 25% of the land for the project. Partly because of Dr. Grier's vision, a nonprofit organization - LowCom Development, Inc. - was formed. LowCom worked alongside two additional non-profit organizations. Rice Family Farms Consortium, Inc. is a housing and economic development resource for low-income families. They assisted with initial work, including acquiring AHP funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank. The Paces Foundation became a part of the project, bringing experience as a successful affordable housing developer.

The partnership gave LowCom Development and Rice Family Farms the opportunity to participate in all phases of the development. Now that they've seen the successful result, they can use their valuable experience on future tax credit and affordable housing projects.

Unlocking Community Lending Opportunities

Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta

First Cherokee State Bank of Georgia, which serves Cherokee and Cobb counties, saw the general opportunity for community development lending but needed a way to pinpoint those opportunities. The purpose was not only to facilitate the bank's own growth, but also to stimulate job growth through the creation of new business, the revitalization of neighborhoods and/or the provision of community services.

Working with FHLBank Atanta staff and representatives from Georgia Power, Georgia Tech's Economic Development Center, Atlanta Regional Commission, DCA, NeighborWorks® America and LISC, First Cherokee conducted a methodical analysis of its market and community needs. Components of the analysis included field studies, demographic data, and a market assessment report. With this information, the team identified lending opportunities, which were then cross matched with the bank's lending goals. Team members presented the final analysis as a case study to more than 100 community banks at the FHLBank Atlanta's Annual Member Conference.

This collaborative effort demonstrates to banks their ability to impact their communities in terms of job growth, neighborhood revitalization, and community services. And it also gives them a step-by-step process for discovering the places their funds will be most effective locally.

Homeownership Finalists

Kensington Heights

Fulton County Government

Like many urban locations, Fulton County faces the challenge of providing a continuum of housing choices to a broad spectrum of citizens, particularly to very low and low-income households. These groups are usually excluded from new communities, creating stratified areas.

With the creation of Kensington Heights, a community of 95 homes near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Fulton County Government provided upscale, affordable homes for families with typical salaries of $50,000 or less (not to exceed 80% AMI), such as teachers, nurses, public safety workers and other professionals. Priced from $140,000 to $160,000, the energy efficient homes are two-stories with brick or stone accents, sunken living/family rooms and other popular amenities. All of the homes are affordable, with 38 homes set aside for low income families.

Kensington Heights was developed as an innovative partnership between HUD and Fulton County Government. The low and moderate income families purchase through FHA financing. By using federal HOME Program funds and local resources for the development of an entire subdivision, the partners maximized the number of affordable units provided in a short amount of time.

Laney Walker Renaissance Project

Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corporation

The Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corporation set out to preserve the history of the Laney Walker historic district by rehabilitating existing homes and building affordable housing to keep current residents and attract new ones. The area had experienced problems related to the condition of housing and public facilities, aging infrastructure and changes in the mix of land uses. As a result, many people had moved away, creating a growing number of vacant lots.

Working with partners Habitat for Humanity, the City of Augusta's Housing and Economic Development Department, and East Central Georgia Partnership and Homeownership, the Augusta Neighborhood Improvement Corporation has constructed and/or rehabilitated and sold 113 affordable homes to low-to-moderate income families and seniors. An additional 18 homes still occupied by their owners have also been rehabilitated. Project partners also provided homebuyer counseling impacting more than 1,100 Augusta residents and down payment assistance for buyers.

Since it began in 1999, the Laney Walker Renaissance Project has leveraged $10 million in pubic and private funds for the transformation of the neighborhood. The result is a revitalized and preserved historic area, a new sense of community pride and ownership among neighbors, and a number of first time homebuyers who once thought they would never be able to own a home.

WINNER: 2005 Southern Hospitality WorkCamp

City of Valdosta

Residents of Valdosta have set a goal of eliminating substandard housing by the year 2020. One aspect of eliminating substandard housing is repairing and rehabilitating existing homes to stabilize them and improve their appearance.

During the summer of 2005, the City invited senior high school students from around the nation to work on the homes of low-income elderly and/or disabled residents. More than 400 students worked on 51 homes in four target areas. They spent four and a half days performing minor repair work, including painting, replacing siding and skirting, constructing wheelchair ramps, building porches and steps, and other jobs. The students formed relationships with the homeowners, giving the homeowners a sense of value and community spirit. The students' lives were also enriched through their week of community service.

The Southern Hospitality WorkCamp cost $34,000, with funds provided by the City of Valdosta, Lowes Distribution Center, Greater Pleasant Temple Outreach Ministries and Group WorkCamp, Inc. Many additional local organizations participated, including the Valdosta Area Ministerial Alliance, Coastal Plains EOA, the Valdosta City School System, and Habitat for Humanity. The City of Valdosta plans to continue offering the WorkCamp annually, and it will now become a training site for other cities who want to host WorkCamp projects.

Neighborhood RevitalizationFinalists

Beallwood Redevelopment Project

NeighborWorks® Columbus

As a stagnant area of dilapidated homes, the Beallwood community in Columbus had undergone some improvements by the Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity. The 215-acre neighborhood was zoned for commercial use and did not allow for new residential development, though most of the land parcels were residential, religious, recreational, or vacant. NeighborWorks® Columbus wanted to take additional steps to revitalize the area.

A mixture of rezoning, expanded infrastructure and aggressive code enforcement for both housing and commercial structures served as a catalyst for improving conditions and opportunities in Beallwood. The new zoning created a large nucleus of residential and recreational land surrounded by commercial and educational properties. New residential development and rehabilitation of existing properties are now allowed and encouraged. Buffer zones were set up to separate incompatible uses, and improved transportation and public utilities enabled further development.

As part of the Beallwood area's renaissance, NeighborWorks® Columbus added 21 lots to the two home sites it already owned. NeighborWorks® has already constructed five affordable homes-four of which were built "Green"; the first "green" homes in Columbus. All five homes were sold to first time homebuyers earning up to 80% of the Area Median Income. Twenty-five additional three- and four-bedroom affordable homes are planned for future phases, giving it the ability to attract a diverse group of buyers.

Overall, the Beallwood Redevelopment Project will spend $3.5 million provided by a mixture of public, private and non-profit sources. And it will restore an historic community with a rich history in Columbus.

WINNER: Hillside Neighborhood Revitalization

DASH for LaGrange, Inc.

DASH for LaGrange, Inc. has implemented comprehensive community revitalization strategies to return a physically, socially, and economically blighted neighborhood back into an active, vibrant, self-sustaining community. DASH has focused its efforts on the Hillside Neighborhood. A community of 330 single-family homes and 70 multi-family units, Hillside encompasses about 275 acres. Before DASH for LaGrange began its work, 45% of the single-family homes were considered substandard, and the community's homeownership rate was significantly lower than in other areas of the city.

As part of the $11 million project, DASH acquired, rehabilitated, or rebuilt 89 homes. More than half of these homes are considered workforce housing, affordable to buyers between 50% and 80% AMI. Further, 54 of the 89 homes acquired by DASH were previously rental property. As a result, the homeownership rate in Hillside increased from 32% to 48%. The new mix of housing types, special incentives for public servants, and financial incentives for low to moderate buyers has created an economically, socially, and racially diverse community.

DASH is also taking steps to revive Hillside's commercial district through the renovation of two buildings and the construction of a third. Community building and organizing activities including a neighborhood newsletter, Neighborhood Watch groups and special events have increased interaction among neighbors, engendered a sense of community and have led to a significant reduction in crime. Once the city's most crime-ridden neighborhood, Hillside now enjoys a crime rate that is 44% less than the city average.

Veranda at CollegeTown

The Integral Group, the Housing Authority of the City of Atlanta, and Real Estate Strategies

The Veranda at CollegeTown is Phase II of the revitalization plan for the former Joel C. Harris Homes public housing community in Atlanta's West End community. The Veranda welcomes seniors ages 62 and older. In an area surrounded by the Atlanta University Center, mixed-income apartments, and a vibrant urban environment, The Veranda ensures a strong, inter-generational mix in West End.

The Veranda offers more than 20 floor plan types, some with balconies, bay windows, Juliet balconies and other elements to create distinguished architecture that adds to West End's urban fabric. The structure is physically linked to components in the new neighborhood and existing broader community to encourage interaction and involvement.

Inside, the one-and two-bedroom apartments are designed with the needs of senior residents in mind. In addition to common conveniences, each has emergency pull-cords in strategic locations. Community spaces facilitate the provision of services, including social events and other group activities. The Veranda also includes a wellness center with access to West End Medical Center health services, an exercise room and a worship center.

The affordable apartments in The Veranda were filled within three months, and the property continues to maintain a waiting list of more than 100 seniors. Its popularity illustrates the integral role The Veranda plays in the revitalization of the area.

Special Needs Finalists

Grove Park Village

In-Fill Housing, Inc, Macon Housing Authority, and River Edge Behavioral Health Center

The Macon Housing Authority's Shelter Plus Care program successfully combined housing assistance with supportive services for homeless persons during the late 1990s. MHA provided the housing assistance and the River Edge Behavioral Health Center provided the supportive services for assisted families. However, both agencies wanted to improve the basic program model. Shelter Plus Care units often just met the minimal Section 8 housing standards, and the units were dispersed throughout the Macon/Bibb County area, making it difficult to provide the services residents needed.

To better serve homeless persons with a mental health and/or a substance abuse diagnosis, MHA, River Edge, and In-Fill Housing, Inc. developed Grove Park Village. This 40-unit multi-family development, completed in 2005, provides affordable residential housing where residents pay rent of no more than 30 percent of their adjusted monthly incomes.

River Edge staffs a fulltime case manager at Grove Park Village at no cost to the development. All of River Edge's professional resources are available to residents according to their individual needs. These include medical management, psychosocial rehabilitation, community support, outpatient substance abuse services, peer support, Project Connect, individual counseling, and employment training.

The $3.2 million development cost for Grove Park Village was provided by DCA's Permanent Supportive Housing Program, which includes funds from the HOME Program and the State Housing Trust Fund for the Homeless. When spread out over the expected life of the development, the per unit cost is approximately $2,700/year, compared to the $84,600 annual cost of hospitalizing patients for mental health or substance abuse.

Hearthstone Landing

The NuRock Companies and Cherokee Family Violence Center

In a 2001 market study, battered women's shelters in North Georgia identified the need for affordable housing for families that had experienced domestic violence. The housing should be secure, affordable and available on short notice. To meet the needs of abused spouses and their children, the Cherokee Family Violence Center (CFVC) and the NuRock Companies developed Hearthstone Landing.

Hearthstone Landing is a 72-unit housing project for families referred from a network of 15 shelters for battered women. The two, three, and four-bedroom apartments are set aside for low and very low income renters, with rental assistance available on 57 apartments. While many transitional housing stays go up to only 18 months, Hearthstone allows families to remain up to three years as they recover from abuse and learn new skills or complete their education.

Residents enjoy amenities such as balconies, security alarms and a washer and dryer in each home. A pool, clubhouse and sport court are available. The NuRock Companies' BreakOuttm program is included in the cost of the rent, giving children an enriching after school and summer care program. Social services in the Breakout Program include holiday community dinners and seasonal events. Hearthstone also addresses the needs of the mothers with support from CFVC case managers, life coaches and mentors.

WINNER: Hope House

Progressive Redevelopment/CaringWorks, Inc.

In an effort to reduce chronic homelessness in Atlanta, Progressive Redevelopment, Inc. and CaringWorks, Inc. established Hope House. The 70-bed transitional housing facility is for formerly homeless adult males who are recovering from a substance addiction. Its goal is to provide quality housing and structured support as men prepare to re-engage society and seek long-term permanent housing.

The two-story facility, located in downtown Atlanta near City Hall, offers entry into one of three service levels. The Phoenix level serves men awaiting treatment, the Falcon level serves men participating in out-patient programs, and the Eagle level serves men who are employed and have at least 90 days of sobriety.

The men at Hope House receive on and off-site supportive services on evenings and weekends. These include substance abuse recovery programs, employment services, and comprehensive supportive services, such as counseling or group therapy. Men learn the benefits of taking on community responsibilities by helping with maintenance and security of the property.

Hope House served 366 men in its first year. Of the 209 men who came to await treatment, 81% stayed clean and sober. More than 80% of the men on the Falcon and Eagle levels remained clean and sober, and 60% of the Eagle level residents moved to permanent housing.

Superior Design Finalists

Auburn Glenn

Capitol Development Group, Smith Dalia Architects, LLC & James Harwick + Partners, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc., Community Redevelopment Loan and Investment Fund, Inc., Atlanta Development Authority, Historic District Development Corporation

Auburn Glenn addresses the need for an urban-infill development that provides mixed-rate housing while also augmenting the ongoing improvements in Atlanta's Historic Martin Luther King district.

Auburn Glenn's street presence ties into the character and scale of the adjacent Edgewood Commercial Corridor. The buildings cover nearly 3.5 acres and present extra-long, imposing elevations toward the street and sidewalks. The architects divided the longest façade, which was more than 500 feet, into eight distinct sections by varying the materials and planes. These sections were then connected to the sidewalk by several entry stoops that lead to one of four private interior courtyards. Open breezeways provide access to the interior.

In addition to meeting the aesthetic demands of the area, Auburn Glenn also answers the needs of mixed-income tenants. Residents occupy 271 apartments, 75% of which are affordable units. Amenities include a fitness room, business center, club room, pool, laundry room, and playground area. The ground floor provides commercial space, which offers opportunities for residents to shop and work nearby.

GE Tower Lofts and Apartments

Atlanta Development Authority, Pimsler Hoss Architects, Inc.; and Needle Development

The Atlanta Development Authority and partners Needle Development, Inc. and Pimsler Hoss Architects, Inc. transformed two abandoned General Electric Warehouse buildings into mixed-income apartments. The adaptive reuse created 89 apartments in existing buildings, including 28 that are live-work units and an additional 112 units of affordable housing in a new structure. A fourth structure on the site provides parking for residents and visitors.

Project partners designed GE Lofts and Apartments with respect to the original character that is an important part of Atlanta's historic Mechanicsville neighborhood. The buildings are an architecturally significant example of concrete and brick industrial design, and a landmark former water tower can be seen from miles around. All changes were made with approval by the National Park Service and Department of the Interior, so the project is certified as an approved historic design. These changes included replacement windows that are energy efficient yet consistent with the original design and the expansion of an interior open-air atrium to provide improved light and air flow for the new units.

The $11.5 million project, funded with a mixture of public and private sources including Historic Tax Credit and Housing Tax Credit equity investment, breathed new life into a struggling area and made a significant contribution to Mechanicsville's ongoing revitalization.

WINNER: Tattnall Place - Historic In-Town Living

Macon Housing Authority, City of Macon, and Brittain Thompson Bray Brown, Inc. Architects & Planners

Tattnall Place, located on the former site of a 1940s era public housing development in Macon, was designed with respect to the principles of New Urbanism, Traditional Neighborhood Design and Smart Growth. The result of the $11.8 million investment is a walkable neighborhood with distinctive architecture.

The 35 townhomes, duplexes and flats of Tattnall Place provide 97 mixed income units in a convenient downtown location. The architecture respects the historic tenor of Macon's established neighborhoods by incorporating 18 different building types that vary by rooflines, porch configurations, exterior finishes and detailing. Individual units have front yard areas that continue the pattern of the residential area. Green spaces, an abundance of windows, and varying porches add beauty and increase safety. Interiors and amenities, including a pool, fitness center and computer room, attract mixed-income residents.

Despite a 38-foot grade change on the site, each townhouse has at least one stepless entrance to provide "visitability."  Many of the one and two-bedroom flats are fully handicap accessible.

In conjunction with the development of Tattnall Place, the Macon Housing Authority renovated the Hazel Street Bridge for pedestrian use. The bridge gives safe access to nearby shopping, recreation and schools and opens a new way for neighbors to embrace the community.

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