Augusta mixed-income development Legacy at Walton Oaks filled fast

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The Augusta Housing Authority’s first mixed-income housing development reached its rental capacity three months after the first residents moved in – and about two months ahead of the target date.

Construction continues at Legacy at Walton Oaks, Augusta's first mixed-income housing complex. The complex has rented its 75 units for residents older than 55. The second phase will add 75 units for families.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Construction continues at Legacy at Walton Oaks, Augusta's first mixed-income housing complex. The complex has rented its 75 units for residents older than 55. The second phase will add 75 units for families.

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.

ABOUT WALTON OAKS

The first phase, the Legacy at Walton Oaks, features 75 units for residents older than 55. Twelve units are reserved for low-income public housing tenants and 26 for project-based rental assistance.

Higher-income residents pay a rent reduced from the market value. A one-bedroom unit costs $527 per month, and a two-bedroom costs $634.

Construction is under way for the second phase, 75 units for families. Two- and three-bedroom apartments, a fitness center and playground should be complete in June.

Future phases will increase the units to 300.


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