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Saved from foreclosure, Atlanta Housing’s London Townhomes project could be “success story” for agency

Sean Keenan

A humble, decades-old co-op community just inside The Perimeter’s westernmost reaches seemed destined for foreclosure in 2017. But thanks to a collaboration between Atlanta’s housing authority and real estate developer The Benoit Group, the London Townhomes complex is primed for a major upgrade.

The Benoit Group, which now owns the property after essentially swooping in to save it from foreclosure, aims to convert the property from a co-op community to one with multifamily dwellings—essentially, changing it from community owned and occupied by shareholders to a conventional apartment complex.

Ultimately, the project is expected to provide 200 housing units—180 of which would rent for households earning 60 percent of the area median income (AMI) or less—at the Ivan Hill development erected in the 1960s.

During Atlanta Housing’s (AH) December board of commissioners meeting, board chair Dr. Christopher Edwards called plans to preserve and rehab the community a “success story” for the agency.

Tiffany Wills, AH’s vice president of real estate development, later told SaportaReport that’s because the venture, which is also supported by $20 million in bond funding from Invest Atlanta, “[offers] a solution that not only prevents the foreclosure and displacement of the low-income residents—mostly seniors—but [will] also reduce, if not eliminate, the residents’ financial burden.”

She’s referring to subsidies the project is receiving by way of Georgia’s Low-income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and AH’s HomeFlex rental assistance program, which should help keep legacy residents at home. As of December, the community was about 87 percent occupied, she said.

“Current residents have the option to return to the property post-renovations, so long as they are eligible under the LIHTC and HomeFlex programs, and [The Benoit Group’s] property management standards,” Wills said, noting that some property managers also require credit checks.

If they don’t fit those criteria, residents could return to one of the 20 market-rate units that will be available after the updates.

The project’s financial closing is slated for spring 2020, and renovations are expected to take 16 months.

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