By Christine Serlin
Developer: Mercy Housing Southeast, Inc.
Architect: Martin Riley and Associates
Major Funders: SunTrust Community Capital; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Georgia Department of Community Affairs; city of Savannah; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Community Housing Services Agency, Inc.
Originally built in 1943 to house employees of the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corp., the Strathmore Estates complex in the Savannah Gardens community of Savannah, Ga., was meant to be dismantled after the war. Instead, the Housing Authority of Savannah used and then sold it to a private owner in 1955. Occupancy had fallen to 20 percent by 2007, and Strathmore was recognized as a magnet of crime and abandonment in the city.
But revitalization efforts by nonprofit Mercy Housing Southeast and master developer CHSA Development, Inc., with support from the city, are repairing this community's reputation.
Mercy has completed the first two phases of affordable housing, with a third phase wrapping up this fall. The 249 units will primarily serve low-income households who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, with 39 units reserved for very low-income seniors 62 and older. The master plan also will include homeownership opportunities and additional green space while making the community blend seamlessly with the surrounding neighborhood.
“It's a breath of fresh air from what was there before,” says Robin Haddock, project manager.
Without access to the HOPE VI or Choice Neighborhoods programs, the development team financed the $31.9 million for the first three phases with low-income housing tax credits combined with Sec. 202, HOME, Community Development Block Grant, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and tax credit exchange funds.