Low-income housing development off Hilton Avenue hits a snag

Local News
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A Vinings, Ga., developer proposing a low-income tax credit housing complex in midtown Columbus has suffered a major setback that could kill the proposed project.

TBG Residential had plans to build a multi-family development on more than five acres of land at the corner of Hilton Avenue and Macon Road. To make the 84-unit project work, the developer needed to get the tax credits from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a state agency.

DCA announced projects it was funding this week and the Hilton Avenue project was not on the list.

“At this point, we do not have the funding to do an affordable housing project on that piece of land,” said Kevin Buckner, president of TBG.

It is a victory for a grassroots neighborhood effort to fight the proposed project. Help Save Hilton was organized early this year and rallied support and funding to oppose the proposed project, which was designated for land that was zoned for that type of development.

“I think this is a small victory and the first step in an ongoing process,” said Tyler Pritchard, a Columbus attorney who was one of the organizers of Help Save Hilton. “We will never say never, but this is a small victory in a much larger effort.”

TBG can appeal the DCA decision, Buckner said. The project scored high enough to be funded, Buckner said.

“What we are trying to do now is get in front of DCA and understand their reasons for not funding this project,” Buckner said.

The property is owned by the Eakle family and has been under contract to  TBG. The completion of the sale is contingent on getting the low-income tax credits, Buckner said.

The fact that DCA did not fund the project, gives the Help Save Hilton group a new opportunity, Pritchard said.

“I think this has given the community an opportunity,” Pritchard said. “It will allow us an opportunity to pursue other developments that may be good for the community as a whole and return the property to its historic glory.”

The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Its on the register because of a home that was known as the Hilton mansion that once stood on the property. The home was destroyed by fire in the early 1980s. In addition to the home the site ‘s significance is also related to Columbus, history, military history, urban planning and architecture.

In addition to Help Save Hilton, the city of Columbus opposed the project. In a May letter to DCA Director Laurel Hart, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson voiced concern.

The Historic Columbus Foundation also opposed the project because of concerns about density, traffic, quality of construction and how it would relate to neighboring historic neighborhoods.

Help Save Hilton has raised about $12,000 to fight the project and has commitments for $100,000, Pritchard said. The Historic Columbus Foundation, a non-profit organization, partnered with the Help Save Hilton group to administer the money, Pritchard said.

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