Augusta’s first mixed-income housing complex won’t be a likely home for residents relocated from a public housing project scheduled for demolition.
Richard Arfman, the director of planning and development for the Augusta Housing Authority, said Walton Oaks off Sand Bar Ferry Road won’t have enough public housing units available for Cherry Tree Crossing tenants.
The housing authority announced Thursday that it plans to demolish Cherry Tree to make room for the city’s second mixed-income development, which will be similar to Walton Oaks.
Demolishing Cherry Tree requires formal approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Across the nation, traditional barracks-style housing projects are being replaced with modern apartments where tenants in public housing live side-by-side with those paying market rates or near market rates.
Since its opening in mid-July, the 75-unit Walton Oaks has reached a 78 percent leasing rate, said Melissa Whirledge, the director of marketing for Walton Communities, the Atlanta-based private developer and manager of the complex.
Fourteen units reserved for public housing tenants are fully leased, Whirledge said. Of the remaining 61 units, which use tax credits to offer below-market rent, 74 percent are leased.
The complex wants to reach full occupancy by the end of the year, Whirledge said.
Nearly 400 families at Cherry Tree probably won’t meet income levels for tax-credit apartments at Walton Oaks, Arfman said. But if they pass required background and financial checks, that will be one option for relocation.
“We work really closely with these people to make sure they have a place that works for them,” Arfman said.
At most, five to 10 Cherry Tree families will be housed at Walton Oaks, Arfman said. Subsequent phases are planned to add about 100 more units at Walton Oaks, and some of those will be public housing. Section 8 vouchers are not accepted in the current Walton Oaks units, and it’s not been determined whether they will be accepted in later phases, he said.
Arfman said Augusta’s public housing developments typically have 500 vacancies a year because of turnover rates. He expects Cherry Tree residents to be relocated to other public housing projects or senior housing if they choose to stay in the public housing program.
Residents will learn more about options for relocating at a meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Cherry Tree Crossing, Arfman said.