Multi-million dollar proposal to re-develop BTW apartments - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Multi-million dollar proposal to re-develop BTW apartments

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Big changes could be on the way for the Booker T. Washington Apartments in Columbus as officials with the Housing Authority are working on a multi-million dollar re-development project for the area.

The proposed project by the Columbus Housing Authority would demolish the 72-year-old buildings and build new homes.

It is something resident Lisa Solomon says could be a good thing.

"I hope it would happen because I have seen all the other nice apartments they built. This deserves a chance too. It they could build it and make a better living for all of us," said Solomon.

The project comes in two phases. If approved, construction on Phase 1 could start in June of 2014 and would put 100 units on property around the Liberty Theatre in Columbus.

Phase 2 would build another 100 units on part of the land the current apartments sit on with the remaining land available for commercial development. Each phase would cost about $16 million dollars.      

Len Williams, the CEO of the Housing Authority says the majority of the money would come from private investments and tax credits.

However, to move forward, Williams says the Housing Authority would need the city to invest land around the Liberty Theatre. On Tuesday, he appeared before the Columbus City Council to ask for help with the project.

"We need the approval from the city and we need the investment from the city. We need not only the land, but we also need $1.5 million for each phase," said Williams.

Right now, there are about 392 units at the apartments. The proposed redevelopment would cut that number almost in half, leaving some residents concerned about what would happen to them.

"What are they going to do for us? If they do all the cutting and the stuff like that what are they going to do for us? What do they have in store for us and how are we going to continue to live on in housing projects," said Solomon.

However, Williams says there will be options.

"They will get a voucher. We will help them go out and find a home on the private market, and then, we will continue to pay a portion of their rent and that's basically the way public housing works as well," said Williams.

Residents could also move into the new housing or choose to live in different housing authority apartments.

Several city councilors said, as of now, they were cautious to invest in the project even though many said it was a great concept.

Tuesday's meeting was the last time city council will meet for the year. They will continue talks about the proposed redevelopment at the beginning of the year. 

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