The Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of Columbus took another step Wednesday morning toward the demolition of Chase Homes, a 108-unit public housing complex along the Chattahoochee River.
They voted unanimously to resubmit an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish the 1950s-era complex that is post-World War II era public housing. The resubmission comes at the request of HUD, which is encouraging the razing of the apartments.
It could be more than a year before the demolition process begins and all of the current residents are relocated, said Housing Authority Chief Executive Officer Len Williams.
“Basically, it is the same resolution passed back in October authorizing us to move ahead with the demolition and disposition application for Chase Homes,” Williams said after the vote.
That application should be submitted by the end of March, Williams said.
The Ledger-Enquirer originally reported in October that the Housing Authority was moving toward the demolition of Chase Homes.
Chase Homes is located next to two Georgia Power Co. substations, one between the river and First Avenue and the other one between First Avenue and Second Avenue just north of the downtown TSYS campus.
Those power substations became a concern to HUD officials back in late summer when Williams and Chief Operating Officer Lisa Walters met with them in Washington. Williams and Walters went armed with photographs showing the closeness of the units to the power substation. They were asking HUD officials to revisit an earlier decision not to demolish Chase Homes.
“At that point, they said, ‘Well, we think that is a bad situation for your residents and we need to get them away from those environmental issues. We think you should submit a Demolition Disposition application to clear the entire site,’” Williams told the Ledger-Enquirer in October.
Tiffani Stacy lives in Elizabeth Canty Homes and is the board’s resident commissioner. She has talked to about a dozen Chase Homes residents and said the support for the project is overwhelming.
“They are telling me they are very excited about this positive change and for the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives,” Stacy said.
If HUD approves the application, it will provide Section 8 vouchers for the Chase residents who wish to go into that program. They will be eligible to rent property in Section 8 housing throughout the city. Some will be offered opportunities to move into other public housing.
The Housing Authority will work with its development partner Columbia Residential of Atlanta to apply for federal tax credits, to construct replacement housing north of the current Chase property, Williams said in October. Columbia and the Housing Authority have been partners on projects at Columbus Commons on the former Booker T. Washington site along Veterans Parkway and Victory Drive and Arbor Pointe and Patriot Pointe in south Columbus.
One of the last pieces of the revised application was a new letter from Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. The mayor, who leaves office next month, has been a proponent of the demolition of Chase and the revitalization of the area north of TSYS, known as City Village.
“The approval of this application would allow the Housing Authority of Columbus, Georgia to pursue the removal of obsolete housing units at Louis T. Chase Homes Apartments and to develop new affordable housing residences for the people of Columbus, providing them a significantly improved living environment in a high-quality revitalized neighborhood,” the mayor wrote in a letter that will be included in the application.