Grovetown city officials gave their support to a potential low-income housing development at a Monday city council meeting.
The city council members voted unanimously to endorse Marion Village, a proposed apartment complex that developer Walt Yeomans hopes to build on the former site of the city's original school on Robinson Avenue.
The Hatton Schoolhouse, a small wooden building that housed students in the late 1800s, sits in disrepair on a 4-acre lot that fronts East Robinson Avenue and backs up to Ford Avenue across from the current Grovetown Elementary School.
Yeomans said he'll preserve the repairable 12-by-12-foot bell house of the school by incorporating it into the project, or donate it to the city museum.
The development "will be very upscale and very new," said Mark Bunch, an accountant and affordable housing and tax credit consultant on Yeomans' development team.
The 34-apartment development is modeled after the upscale urban Atlanta housing designed for those with moderate incomes.
Yeomans said he plans to submit the project to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in hopes of becoming one of 30 projects funded through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. It is a federal subsidy that helps finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.
The city's endorsement adds points to the project's LIHTC application, Yeomans said.
City officials did express concerns that Marion Village tenants would be allowed to use Section 8 vouchers, which allow the federal government to pay part of the rent.
"We don't want to do a public housing project," Bunch said. "We really do build for the masses."
The apartments that Bunch called "workforce housing," are designed for people who earn a paycheck and pay their bills. Criminal background checks on every potential tenant will be performed and felonies, crimes against children and drug offenses will get them disqualified to live there.
Credit checks also will be done and income must be verified.
"If you are going to live there and steal and deal, we don't really want you," Bunch said.
Yeomans said the complex will include Southern plantation-inspired brick apartment buildings with double arching stairways, columns, energy-efficient appliances, granite counter tops, a large public yard, playground and clubhouse.
Yeomans plans to rebuild a stone wall, remnants of the Villa Marion house that stood on the property before it burned in 1972, along the Robinson Avenue frontage. A wrought iron gate will be erected.
HUD officials will announce in the fall whether Marion Village is one of the LIHTC-funded projects. If approved, Yeomans said he plans to immediately start construction and it should be complete within two years.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.