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Walton Oaks, Augusta's first mixed-income family housing development, celebrates grand opening

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Augusta’s efforts to end concentrations of low-income housing continued Wednesday with the grand opening of its first mixed-income family housing development.

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The public tours new facilities during the grand opening celebration for the second phase of Walton Oaks, a mixed-income housing development on the site of the former Underwood Homes public housing project Wednesday afternoon in Augusta.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
The public tours new facilities during the grand opening celebration for the second phase of Walton Oaks, a mixed-income housing development on the site of the former Underwood Homes public housing project Wednesday afternoon in Augusta.

Walton Oaks, off Sand Bar Ferry Road, is built on the former site of the Underwood Homes public housing project. The 75 two- and three-bedroom apartments target individuals and families earning at or below 60 percent of the median area household income.

The property is developed and managed by Atlanta-based Walton Communities, which operates 15 mixed-income developments in the Atlanta area. Of the 75 new Walton Oaks units, the Augusta Housing Authority manages 14 reserved for public housing tenants.

At the grand opening celebrations, state Rep. Wayne Howard said the city and the housing authority need to continue rebuilding and redeveloping dilapidated housing complexes.

“I knew and still know some of the stories of Underwood. Public housing initially started out to be a stepping stone for us to move and build ourselves a better quality of life,” Howard said. “We’ve got to make sure we remember the least of those will always be among us.”

The smoke-free complex features tall oak trees, manicured landscape, a playground, fitness center and a library with computer access. A children’s activity center will provide free after-school care for residents. Residents receive one free reading book a month and children can enroll in a reading program.

Tenants must pass credit and background checks. Rents range from $663 to $754 for the 1,088 and 1,178 square-feet units.

Residents began moving into Walton Oaks on July 5. Overall, the complex is 28 percent occupied. The 14 public housing units are occupied, said Melissa Whirledge, the director of marketing for Walton Communities.

“We want to build a neighborhood that is a community that thrives. We are looking for residents who really want to improve upon their life,” Whirledge said.

The first phase – Legacy at Walton Oaks – opened in October for residents older than 55.

Richard Arfman, the Augusta Housing Authority’s director of planning and development, said the city will continue building mixed-income communities.

Augusta is following a trend used across the nation to replace barrack-style public housing with modern apartment homes. In 2008, the Augusta Housing Authority sold Gilbert Manor to the Medical College of Georgia. It was razed before the demolition of Underwood Homes.

Arfman said no former Underwood Homes residents are living at Walton Oaks, although the housing authority did reach out to them. The 14 public housing tenants were removed from the housing authority’s waiting list.

“We didn’t want to get 100 percent public housing by any means. We wanted to get mixed-income so the quality is good,” he said.

The housing authority has applied to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to fund a third phase of 106 family units, Arfman said. If approved, construction could begin in 2013. A fourth phase of 44 units for seniors is also planned.

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ArKadon
12
Points
ArKadon 07/18/12 - 08:28 pm
9
1
Laughable

So, how many of the units are in phase one for seniors? And if out of the 75 new units, 14 of those are already occupied for a 28% total, that means if there is 75 units total, 7 people pay rent and 14 are rent free? You seriously think people are going to pay those prices to live outnumbered as of right now, in a bad section of town? This has fail all over it.

clumber
43
Points
clumber 07/18/12 - 08:43 pm
8
1
Mixed housing

Social engineering at the best. Water runs to the lowest level. Doomed to fail, a waste of tax money.

hotsaucemom
164
Points
hotsaucemom 07/18/12 - 10:02 pm
6
1
I visited this location and

I visited this location and its operated like a prison. You can't smoke inside or outside your unit. Now, you tell what they had in mind when they built these units to control your life style.

psada121
10
Points
psada121 07/18/12 - 10:45 pm
8
2
Well this is nice! I'm glad

Well this is nice! I'm glad Augusta is getting a new place for our poor drug dealers to live!

CobaltGeorge
158146
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/19/12 - 03:26 am
8
2
Just Wondering

when the first shot is fired!

seenitB4
86829
Points
seenitB4 07/19/12 - 04:34 am
8
1
Will it work..

Do we have examples where this program has actually worked??

Really....I would like to know.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 07/19/12 - 06:55 am
1
0
I hope they have restrictions
Unpublished

I hope they have restrictions on who can move in with family members that live there. I'm sure some of those 55+ year olds have kids and grandkids just waiting to move in with grandma.

tanbaby
1293
Points
tanbaby 07/19/12 - 07:06 am
0
1
an article today about the
Unpublished

an article today about the drug bust in CC and how apartment complexes breed trouble...so what do we do??? build another low income, no income apartment complex !!! yea, that'll fix the problem !!!!

CABoatright
188
Points
CABoatright 07/19/12 - 07:23 am
1
1
Cobalt-you're absolutely
Unpublished

Cobalt-you're absolutely right! Just a matter of time. Also, I'd like to see photos of the place in a year....it will be torn to hell & trashed just like all the other ones. If they don't have to work for it, they won't take care of it.

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 07/19/12 - 08:20 am
8
1
Walton Oaks

What kind of nut would think this will work? I am still amazed at the ignorance of so-called leaders. Remember this date AC, and go back in a year and see what this place will look like. All the commenters are correct on this............................

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 07/19/12 - 08:23 am
6
1
Cobalt George

Good morning George, I have missed you............could that first shot be the first murder?

twolane
191
Points
twolane 07/19/12 - 09:03 am
1
0
so i have to pass a credit check
Unpublished

so i have to pass a credit check to live right beside a section 8....i pay 700 a month and right next door same amenities section 8 pays nothing......no thanks you can stuff it

CobaltGeorge
158146
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/19/12 - 09:14 am
6
1
All Depends

on where the bullet hits the neighbor.

redapples
660
Points
redapples 07/19/12 - 09:46 am
5
1
Trying to put lipstick on a

Trying to put lipstick on a pig again!

countyman
20082
Points
countyman 07/19/12 - 06:17 pm
0
2
WOW!!! I think some of the

WOW!!! I think some of the people in this area need to travel more across the US.... The city of Augusta is late in terms of mixed income housing, and gentrification....

Bigger cities such as Chicago & Atlanta have been demolishing their housing projects, and building mixed income housing instead....

I guess next were going to be hearing neighborhoods like Harrisburg, Laney Walker, etc can't be gentrified... Even though we don't have to travel to larger cities, and can simply ride through Olde Town... Which has managed to attract several middle/upper middle class young professionals, gays, empty nesters, and now even families...

CobaltGeorge
158146
Points
CobaltGeorge 07/19/12 - 06:49 pm
2
1
countyman

In most of your post you bring in the "gays". I wonder why!

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 07/19/12 - 07:14 pm
3
0
Augustans

To the outsider who does not understand folks from small metro areas, many Augustans may seem mean, and short sighted.

But that is the way that small town white folks are. If they wanted to live in Atlanta or Chicago, they would.

And I'd bet money they are right in their opinions on this project. It will fail. Perhaps not in a year. But in a relatively short period of time.

I'm in a big city area and live in relatively close proximity to mixed income housing. Have watched an old established neighborhood beside the project experience white flight....and the surrounding area has followed suit. Crime rate has EXPLODED. The high end grocery store that anchors the area will be leaving soon and the pawn shops, check cashing places and so on, have already begun to move in.

And guess what? It was supposed to be urban renewal for an area seeing pockets of blight!

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 07/19/12 - 07:16 pm
4
0
Gays

And I agree - why bring in the gays? If gay is nothing more than a sexual orientation for people who are otherwise "normal" then why must we include "gays" in every discussion?

Oh! I know! POLITICS!

clumber
43
Points
clumber 07/19/12 - 08:16 pm
3
0
Walton Oaks

Atlanta, for one, is re-thinking mixed housing. The results are not readily available, but some 83% of the original low income residents did not return. Big reason, did not qualify under new requirements, fled to section 8 housing. No stats I could find concerning the effects of their presence in the gaining area.

jasonr
8
Points
jasonr 07/19/12 - 08:56 pm
3
0
With everyone comparing this

With everyone comparing this new development to ones in Atl. or Chicago what could be the positive outcome of this? Chicago for one has a higher murder rate than American deaths in Afghanistan so far this year. All these low income housing developments do is build a negative environment around them, in which crime flourishes.

bubbasauce
20603
Points
bubbasauce 07/19/12 - 10:02 pm
2
0
Fail, fail and fail again.

Fail, fail and fail again. Boy do we have brilliant minds in Augusta!

seenitB4
86829
Points
seenitB4 07/20/12 - 09:08 am
2
0
Perry said..

I'm in a big city area and live in relatively close proximity to mixed income housing. Have watched an old established neighborhood beside the project experience white flight....and the surrounding area has followed suit. Crime rate has EXPLODED. The high end grocery store that anchors the area will be leaving soon and the pawn shops, check cashing places and so on, have already begun to move in.

Time & time again.....crime exploded....I see that too..

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