MACON, GA—As each new affordable home at Bartlett Crossing is built, memories of the abandoned Macon Homes development fade further away.
“The transformation is clearly a step in the right direction, and we hope a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization," says Bruce Gerwig, president of In-Fill Housing, Inc., the developer behind the project.
The 20-acre site taunted the neighborhood for years with its decay. Made up of 40 one- and two-story multifamily buildings, Macon Homes stood vacant for more than 10 years before Gerwig's team began demolition in late 2009.
Using low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds, In- Fill Housing is replacing the old buildings with 75 new single-family homes. About 90 percent of the construction had been completed by September.
Bartlett Crossing is one of two large affordable housing developments that In-Fill Housing expects to wrap up in 2011. The other, a gut rehabilitation of a public housing development, involves another 100 units. The two add up to the developer's most productive year yet.
A nonprofit affiliate of the Macon Housing Authority (MHA), In-Fill Housing was created in 1999 to build single-family homes for first-time home buyers in the city. It gets its name because it started out by filling in vacant lots in Macon's inner-city neighborhoods.
The organization has diversified into building other housing types and using varied financing sources in recent years. It has completed or is pushing through its pipeline 931 rental units with a total development cost of more than $119 million, mostly in neighborhoods in need of revitalization.
Because of the extensive amount of demolition and site preparation needed for Bartlett Crossing, In-Fill Housing contracted for the demolition, abatement, and part of the site work before closing on all the financing. This move kept the project moving and pro vided the general contractor with a site primed and ready for construction as soon as all the approvals were obtained.
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) provided key financial assistance to the $13.2 million project, including state and federal housing tax credits. The LIHTCs raised approximately $8.8 million in equity from Alliant Capital.
Developers needed additional fi- nancing because of the large size of the development and price tag. Fortunately, DCA was able to provide a $2.5 million loan from NSP funds, a federal program aimed at helping neighborhoods that are suffering from foreclosures or blight.
The city of Macon added a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant/NSP loan, and MHA contributed $1.3 million in capital funds. BB&T Bank provided a $4.2 million construction loan.
In-Fill Housing chose to develop single-family homes to fit in with the neighborhood. The two-, three-, and four-bedroom houses will be rented to families earning no more than 50 percent and 60 percent of the area median income. Eight of the homes are public housing units.
Just a few miles away in this city of nearly 100,000 residents, the nonprofit is working on Felton Homes, the public housing rehab project. Built in 1941 as housing for military families, the 50 single-story duplexes were converted into public housing in 1955 and then renovated in the early 1990s. However, the 70-year-old development still needed a complete overhaul, according to Gerwig.
Felton Homes, which will remain public housing, is also about a $13.5 million development. It is using $7.8 million from a Capital Fund Recovery Competition Grant for green communities from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). MHA allocated the funds to the project from a larger $8.6 million grant it received from HUD.
The deal is also using $7.5 million in taxexempt bonds allocated by DCA, issued by MHA, and purchased by BB&T. The project also received $5.2 million in 4 percent tax credit equity from Alliant Capital. MHA contributed $492,489 in capital funds.
In-Fill Housing reconfigured the site, including moving four buildings, to make the development more walkable and to weave it into the larger neighborhood.
In addition, solar panels are being installed on each building to make it a much greener project.
Developers say the renovation of Felton Homes supports a neighborhood revitalization effort that the city is undertaking in the area.