Atlanta Affordable Housing Property Finishes Redevelopment

Atlanta--Hercules Real Estate has completed the renovation of the former Amal Heights community just south of downtown Atlanta--rechristened the Villas at Lakewood.

Atlanta–Hercules Real Estate Services Inc. has completed the renovation of the former Amal Heights community just south of downtown Atlanta. The property, rechristened the Villas at Lakewood, now offers nearly 200 three-bedroom townhouses from $664 per month for qualifying individuals.

More than 160 of the Villas’ units are designated affordable housing under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, while 28 are market rate. Income qualifications for the affordable units range from $25,150 for an individual to $47,400 for a family of eight. The property is now 99 percent occupied.

The redevelopment was extensive. The Villas now includes a new community building and outside pavilion, a new playground, a furnished arts-and-crafts activity center, a computer center, walking paths with exercise stations, a covered pavilion with barbecue facilities, and a fenced community garden with gardening tools available for residents’ use. Hercules replaced roofs, gutters, windows, exterior doors, siding, water heaters and life-safety systems, and new energy-efficient HVAC systems were installed.

The property’s individual residences were upgraded to include bathrooms with new vanities, flooring and lighting, as well as kitchens with new cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring. The units were also upgraded with new lighting fixtures and new carpeting.

Hercules acquired the half-empty Amal Heights complex in late 2007 with plans to convert it to affordable housing under the LIHTC program. It was a slow slog, considering the difficulties posed by the financial markets during the next few years, but Hercules persisted in seeking tax-credit allocations and other public financing.

Finally, by May 2010, Hercules closed on a complicated $20 million financing structure for acquisition and renovation that included owners’ equity; federal and state tax credits issued by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (GDCA) and purchased by Stratford Capital; exchange funds, a part of the 2009 federal economic stimulus program, issued by GDCA; tax-exempt bonds issued by the Atlanta Urban Residential Finance Authority (URFA); Housing Opportunity Bonds issued by URFA; and HOME funds provided through the City of Atlanta. HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing.

Hercules CEO Todd Copeland stresses that without public involvement in affordable housing, these kinds of developments and redevelopments wouldn’t happen. “Without government funding in affordable housing, it would be extremely difficult–probably impossible–for affordable projects to be developed or even redeveloped,” Copeland tells MHN. “Therefore, any budget cuts to those governmental programs would have a detrimental effect on the continuing viability of decent affordable housing.”

Founded in 1995, Virginia Beach, Va.-based Hercules Real Estate Services owns and manages more than 40 properties comprising of over 8,000 units in six states and Washington, D.C. About 80 percent of Hercules’ portfolio is designated affordable under the LIHTC program.

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