ROSWELL, Ga. – After a decade of planning, Roswell’s Groveway Community is seeing the fruits of redevelopment planning begun with a 2007 Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Communities Initiatives grant that will bring new development and workforce housing to downtown.
The city broke ground July 13 on The Veranda at Groveway, a $13 million redevelopment project in cooperation with the Housing Authority of Roswell (HAR) and HUD. The first phase will consist of 102 units, 80 of which will be rent-restricted for residents 62 and older.
Partnering with HAR are the Integral Group and Schmit & Associates.
It will begin replacing 65-year-old public housing units with a public-private development that will offer, in HAR’s words, “pedestrian friendly environments with market rate and affordable housing.”
The $8 million in federal tax credits offered under the public-private partnership are a big driver in the project. Meanwhile the Housing Authority will retain complete ownership of the property.
Steve Stroud, executive director of Roswell Inc., the city’s economic development arm, said no better place could be selected for reshaping Roswell’s downtown.
“This is THE spot for business and residential. It is the core of Roswell. It is a place for employees to have a place to live and a place the public will want to visit,” Stroud said.
Its genesis began with an ARC-sponsored trip by community and political leaders to visit Greenville, S.C. There they saw the transformational change in what had been a dying downtown in Greenville into a dynamic live, work, play environment.
“The Groveway Charrette is the vision of the people who live here and own property here,” Stroud said.
He noted the property is within easy walking distance of the Canton Street entertainment district, City Hall, the Roswell Public Library and Waller Park.
HAR owns 16 prime acres in the Groveway District just south of the Roswell City Hall complex and bounded on the west by Ga. 9 (Atlanta Street). Plans by property owners and the City of Roswell were finalized in 2009 with the Groveway Charrette.
The charrette brought residents and property owners together to map out a long-term strategy for redeveloping the Groveway District with a sharp eye on the economic success of Roswell’s Canton Street District just north of City Hall.
Workforce housing was a large component of the Groveway Charrette and HAR’s mission.
That appeals to City Councilman Donald J. Horton.
“Today, 85 percent of Roswell’s workforce can’t afford to live in the city. We have to go outside Roswell to find people to come here,” Horton said.
That puts the city at a disadvantage for its entire business community.
“And if we don’t have businesses in the city to pay taxes, then it falls on the homeowners. I like a strong tax-paying commercial district,” he said. “Developments like [The Veranda] give us that workforce housing. And don’t forget, those workers buy and spend their wages in our city when they live here. It helps the city all the way around.”
HAR Board President Dan Pile noted it is the largest single property owner in Groveway. The Housing Authority’s redevelopment would be central to any meaningful redevelopment of the area.
HAR broke ground March 13, 1952, and with one significant addition in 1984 has been the city’s rent-assisted program for the elderly and other HUD-qualified residents.
“We realized revitalization alone would not be a viable long-term solution for the Housing Authority,” Pile said. “It needed to be sustainable. And that is why the public-private partnership is so appealing.
“A government-only revitalization would take twice as long and three times the money,” he said. “But the project will always maintain 103 subsidized units [authorized under HAR’ charter].”
But the market-rate housing units will do a much better job of supporting the subsidized units as the other phases are built.
Originally, 14 companies were invited to participate in bidding for the project. It was winnowed down to three, and then Intergral and Schmit & Associates were selected to be the partners in the project.
Atlanta-based Integral has a huge amount of experience in redevelopment with more than $2 billion invested nationwide.