A second preservation has maintained the historic integrity of a downtown Rome, Ga., building and preserved it for the long term as affordable and supportive housing for seniors and residents with special needs.
The 71-unit Greystone Apartments was originally built in the 1880s as The Armstrong Hotel and was rebuilt after a fire in the 1930s. Renamed Greystone Hotel, it was considered the finest luxury hotel in northwest Georgia. A separate apartment building adjacent to the hotel was built in 1936.
The property fell into disrepair and was acquired and converted to affordable housing using low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) in 1993. The initial compliance period ended in 2008, and it had been 20 years since its last comprehensive renovation.
“The building was slipping in quality, and deferred maintenance was starting to add up,” says Jon Toppen, managing principal at Tapestry Development Group, which partnered with In-Fill Housing to acquire and redevelop the property. Previous owner Charles Williams of REIC remains involved as the property management firm.
Almost all of the financing for the $11.2 million redevelopment came from the sale of state and federal LIHTCs and state and federal historic tax credits, which help to avoid permanent debt to keep rents low. RBC Capital Markets—Tax Credit Equity Group provided the equity on the federal credits, and Sugar Creek Capital provided the equity on the state credits.
A mix of green building and historic preservation went into the redevelopment, which was completed in November and achieved EarthCraft Multifamily certification through the Southface Energy Institute. Units were modernized with energy-efficient features, and the HVAC system, ductwork, and roof were replaced. In addition, the development team saved money by refurbishing many of the windows instead of replacing them.
“The response has been tremendous,” says Toppen. “This is still truly honoring the historic nature of the building.”
About half of the residents are seniors 62 and older on fixed incomes, while the remaining residents are 61 and younger with mental or physical disabilities. The average income of the residents is $12,405, and 17 of the units have project-based vouchers from the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority to aid those with very low incomes.
To help the residents engage in healthful social interactions, increase self-efficiency, and find employment, the owners created a new program called Art Alive, which incorporates art therapy, arts and crafts, art education, and social entrepreneurship. Classes are offered twice a week and so far include card making, floral arranging, painting, and wreath making. Residents’ art is being displayed in storefronts.
Foley Design Associates served as the architect, and Choate Construction was the general contractor. SK Collaborative served as technical advisor on the project, consulting and doing the EarthCraft certification work.