A blighted corner of Grovetown is getting a face lift after years of causing frustration for city officials.
William Hughes, president of the Alpharetta-based company Bi-Coastal Communities LLC, plans to build an apartment complex at the intersection of Wrightsboro and Whiskey roads, where a mobile-home park and 108 trailers used to stand.
Workers have leveled most of the homes, which have been uninhabited for a while, and local developers are working on commercial projects for the front lots.
But the bulk of the 13 acres could be the future site of Grovetown Commons, 180 apartments ranging in size from one to three bedrooms and costing $500-$675 a month in rent.
Hughes approached the Columbia County Development Authority on Tuesday asking for the group to induce $8.5 million in tax-exempt bonds for the project. The money would be combined with federal and state tax credits to pay for the $13 million apartment complex. The authority would not be liable for the bonds, but their approval allows Hughes to avoid paying taxes on interest payments.
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"I think it'd be a major contribution to that area," Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau said. "It was a blighted area for such a long time."
Trudeau, who said there is a need for more affordable housing in the city, has been working with Hughes to get the project moving.
Because of requirements with the tax credit programs, Hughes is required to cap the rent at 60 percent below the median income of the Augusta metropolitan area.
He also will have to retain ownership of the development for 15 years, which he said will help ensure the property is maintained.
Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ron Cross said he would rather see the apartments form as a tiered development where not all of the units are earmarked under the affordable housing level.
"But if you are upgrading from mobile homes ... that's good," he said. "Obviously, this is an improvement, so you can't criticize it very much."
Hughes said that if the process moves smoothly with the bonds and tax credits, he hopes to start construction on the project by March.
Trudeau said the apartments will be a significant step in jump-starting the intersection.
"It's going to clear that area up and make a great addition to that city," he said. "The front lots are going to be reserved for commercial - we hope to get some restaurants and other retail projects."
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