Silver Lakes is making a big difference in the small town of Madison, Ga.

A community of about 4,000 people, Madison has had few affordable housing options for its elderly residents. Silver Lakes changes that by providing 44 affordable homes that enable seniors to remain in town and be near family as they age.

The new development also enhances the town’s historic district. As part of the development, The Woda Group and Parallel Housing rehabilitated the John T. Turnell historic home into a community building and leasing office.

To build Silver Lakes, the developers worked closely with city leaders to create a community that works in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood while having the appropriate density to be financially viable. In order to do that, the team utilized the concept of “transfer development rights,” a move unique in a small rural community. Under the approach, the city transferred the development rights from other sites it owns to boost the density at Silver Lakes.

“They were happy with 44 units in terms of density, but they didn’t want one large building,” says Denis Blackburne, senior vice president at Woda. As a result, the team built two smaller, connected buildings that create a courtyard effect and blends into the neighborhood. Social activities such as holiday potlucks, game sessions, and computer classes are held routinely at Silver Lakes. A handicapped-accessible community garden is a big hit among residents who enjoy the fresh produce and camaraderie.

The $7.5 million development provides one- and two-bedroom homes for residents 55 years and older earning no more than 50% and 60% of the area median income. Silver Lakes is financed with approximately $6.5 million in federal and state low-income housing tax credit equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. In addition to awarding the credits, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs allocated $1 million in HOME funds.

Silver Lakes, which recently earned LEED Gold certification, includes several green building features, including solar panels and advanced insulation to reduce utility costs. In addition, the city has created a new walking path that connects the property to an adjacent park. There is also an indoor fitness center and a computer room within the complex.

Silver Lakes is spurring additional improvements in the town’s historic district. “We were the right anchor to get them started,” Blackburne says. “We were fortunate to be the catalyst.”