Tuscaloosa Apartments for Seniors, Razed by Tornado, Reopens

Just months after one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history razed parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a new apartment community for senior citizens has been completely rebuilt in record time.

Atlanta–Just months after one of the most powerful tornadoes in U.S. history razed parts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., a new apartment community for senior citizens has been completely rebuilt in record time. Chastain Manor, an affordable community, is welcoming its first returning residents.

“It was important for us to make sure we got housing back on the ground as quickly as we could, especially since so much was destroyed,” says developer Kevin Buckner, president of Atlanta-based TBG Residential.

The F-5 tornado, which may have been one of the most powerful long-track storms in U.S. history, struck on April 27. It killed 51 people in Tuscaloosa, including two Chastain Manor residents. (The community had just recently opened and was not yet fully occupied.) The apartments were among the 5,000 residences damaged or destroyed. The devastation created a housing crisis, especially for the elderly population, which was already underserved.

Buckner credits a huge team, including the local, state and federal government, Regions Bank, property manager Lane Company, and a great network of contractors and subcontractors with getting the doors open again so quickly. Clean-up and reconstruction began immediately after the storm, without waiting for insurance money.

“We’re back and open for business,” says Merri Thorn, who is leading the leasing effort for property manager Lane Company. The newly-rebuilt community has 56 affordable apartments. While most previous residents plan to return, several apartments are still available since the community was not yet fully-occupied when the storm hit. The brand new building – completed in just six months – is stronger than before. It also now has a storm shelter, just in case.

“We thought especially for residents who are coming back, it would make them feel more comfortable,” Buckner says.

The developer also put extra effort into the landscaping, since so many trees were destroyed. In addition to replanting its own land, it also beautified surrounding areas.

While some construction continues, the community should be fully complete early next year.