Low-income housing turned into condos

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Later this month, a former south Augusta apartment complex will accept its first residents in two years. But they'll be condo owners, not renters.

Arbor Development Co. has nearly 50 contracts for condos in The Creeks on Belmont Avenue, off Gordon Highway. It was once known as Wesley Arms, a 30-year-old, 98-unit, low-income apartment complex.

"When they talk about the blight and the bad stuff that was happening on this end of town, this was the reason for it," said Justin Anderson, Arbor Development's managing partner.

Mr. Anderson said Wesley Arms was once a den of drugs and crime, including fatal shootings and stabbings. He bought the complex in 2003 and shut it down in 2006 with plans to turn it into a condominium project.

Renovations began in September. Each unit will be gutted and rebuilt into two- and three-bedroom condos with energy-efficient upgrades. The Creeks will be a gated community with condos selling at a low of $72,900.

The project nearly didn't happen. Mr. Anderson was caught in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, with the bank that was going to fund the project pulling out in August 2007.

"They saw this and said it is subprime stuff, forget it," Mr. Anderson said. "It left me with $1.5 million in debt and no income."

After sitting on the project for 18 months and nearly losing everything, Mr. Anderson found an investor and backing from another bank.

John Anderson, his father, who was putting in cabinet-door handles Wednesday, said the first four units will be ready for occupancy by the end of the month.

Units will be renovated as buyers are found, so the 98-unit development might not be finished for 18 months.

Justin Anderson said he wishes he could sell the units for $100,000 or more, but the market wouldn't support it.

Arbor Development has a partnership with Georgia Dream to provide down-payment assistance to first-time homebuyers.

Mr. Anderson said he became a certified credit counselor to aid potential buyers.

He said a few of the people who have contracts on units were former residents of Wesley Arms.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.


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