COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Ralston Towers in downtown Columbus marked a milestone as the new ownership cut the ribbon on the $15 million dollar renovation of the historic building.

This was a day to celebrate a new chapter for the century-old building that will serve as affordable housing in the heart of our city.

But it is also a day to remember how bad it was – and people lived – and died — in the unsafe, unsanitary conditions.

It was truly a day to celebrate as Infinity Capital Partners of Atlanta with the help of Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson and Congressmen Sanford Bishop and Drew Ferguson marked the rebirth of the Ralston as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Project Based Section 8 housing.

“As amazing as it is and as much as we love talking about what we see now, you can’t truly appreciate this without looking at some of the darker periods of the Ralston,” Henderson said.

And the darkest of the days came in the summer of 2017. That’s when Charles Hart died as a result of the extreme heat inside the Ralston.

“One of our fellow citizens lost their life in a 100-degree room in some of the most horrific living conditions that I have ever seen,” Ferguson said. “And so out of that tragedy has come something that is pretty remarkable.”

Ferguson, Bishop, and Henderson pressured HUD to close the Ralston and remove the New Jersey-based owners who were gaming the system.

The Ralston will now have 269 subsidized units dedicated to elderly and disabled residents. The first 80 units are ready. The rest of them should be completed by the end of the year.

“I would like to give a tremendous shoutout and thank you to Infinity for taking on this large, humongous, and daunting project,” Bishop said.

Without the political pressure on HUD, the transformation of the Ralston Towers would not have been possible, said Gregory Jones, chief investment officer of Infinity Capital Partners.

“I would like to thank Mayor Henderson, Congressman Bishop, and Congressman Ferguson,” Jones said. “Without them just shepherding what needed to happen first, and then trusting us. Giving us the opportunity to execute and do what we do.”

There will be a small number of non-federally subsidized units in the Ralston. 83 percent of those living there will have some type of HUD subsidy.

Congressman Bishop, Congressman Ferguson, and Mayor Henderson to talk about the Ralston. That will be his Sunday Conversation on News 3 Sunday Morning beginning at 8.

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