BTW Apts. showcase future plans at open house

BTW Apts. showcase future plans at open house

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Plans are moving ahead to tear down and transform one of the oldest housing complexes in Columbus.

People who live at the Booker T. Washington Apartments had the opportunity to see what it will look like in 2016.

Leaders expect it to be one of the nicest properties in the city, but residents tell us they're still not happy about being forced to move out.

"What we're going to put here is going to be a lot better than what was here before," said Len Williams, CEO of Columbus Housing Authority.

He's talking about tearing down and replacing Columbus' 75-year-old Booker T. Washington Apartments.

The future was just on display there with drawings from architects for residents to see and comment on.

"Based on input we get today, we may make other changes," Williams said. "We really want Columbus Commons - the new community's name - to be a flagship property."

Construction will start this year on those 100 new units, ready for people to move in next year.

"It looks nice, but it doesn't fit in this area," said BTW resident Shandrea Miles. "This is a historical area."

Miles saw the plans. She's lived at BTW for six years, where fewer than 30 residents are still left in the northern part of the complex. She wanted the BTW apartments renovated, not demolished.

"A lot of older folks are happier than the younger folks because of all the crime and stuff going on down here," Miles said.

The cost for the project is $15 million for each of the three phases of redevelopment.

"The units will be first rate units," Williams said. "We will also have a playground for children, we'll have a community room, fitness center for the residents, and we'll probably have a gazebo and splash park."

"I think most people are really excited for the chance to live in housing that's more-up-to-date," said Molly Sutter with Georgia Legal Services.

A small group of tenants came to see the designs for the future of BTW Thursday night, all of whom will have a new or transformed home.

"All the residents will either get their choice of moving into one of the new apartments, moving into other public housing, or they'll get section 8 vouchers," Williams said.

Williams says after the north part of BTW is emptied, they'll start getting residents in the south part to move out.

For those who want to move into one of the 100 new apartments being built on the BTW site, they must have good credit and be in good standing with the Columbus Housing Authority along with a criminal background check.

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