By Dec. 31, the Legacy at Walton Oaks had rented its 75 units available for residents older than 55, said Alicia Holland, the property manager. The final two residents are expected to move in during the coming two weeks.
“We really wanted to have everything filled by the end of February, but obviously we were way ahead of schedule and reached our push goal by the end of the year,” Holland said.
Walton Oaks, built on the former site of the Underwood Homes public housing project, follows a model widely used across the nation that replaces traditional barrack-style public housing with modern apartment homes available to both poor and middle-class tenants.
Fifty percent of the units were designated for low-income tenants, and the other half offered at a rental rate reduced from the market value to attract middle-class residents.
Twelve public housing tenants pay rent totaling 30 percent of their net income. An additional 26 units are low-income residents receiving project-based rental assistance, a Section 8 program.
Holland said one factor contributed to quickly filling the units: word of mouth.
“We had a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “It spread like wildfire.”
Richard Arfman, the director of planning and development for the Augusta Housing Authority, said a smooth start for the Walton Oaks project could have big implications for future mixed-income developments to replace more public housing projects in Augusta.
“Once the community sees what’s going on out there, we should have more support from politicians and the community,” he said.
A waiting list was started for the units, but Holland doesn’t expect much turnover. Tenants can renew their 12-month lease if they remain qualified.
Walton Communities, the property’s developer, manages similar complexes in the Atlanta area. Those apartments average a 10 percent turnover rate, or seven apartments in a year, Holland said.