There was a higher level of anxiety this year for some Macon housing officials awaiting word on incentives for the final section of a major development project.
That worry was all for naught as the Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently announced it was awarding tax credits for multifamily housing at the site of the former Tindall Heights complex. The $50 million Tindall Fields project is one of the largest public housing transformations in Macon since Oglethorpe Homes was replaced in the early 2006 by mixed-income Tattnall Place as part of the Beall’s Hill neighborhood revitalization.
For Tindall Fields, tax credits are being used on each of the four phases, including the final where $13.6 million in tax credits should help entice investors. The affordable housing development will feature 270 units of modern housing, replacing the obsolete Tindall Heights that opened in the 1940s.
So why are low-income tax credits important for developments like Tindall Fields?
The tax credits could help attract the necessary investors needed to finance the final phase of Tindall redevelopment, housing officials said.
They allow investors of the project to buy the credits in exchange for the equity needed to finance them. The infusion of equity reduces the amount of debt, thus allowing for lower rent being charged to tenants.
“There was a lot more anxiety this time because of the changes in federal tax laws,” said Mike Austin, CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority. “A lot of people around the industry have been nervous that corporate investors... would not see as much of a tax break on their taxes simply because the federal corporation tax rate is decreasing significantly.”
The tax credits being awarded will prevent having to wait for at least another year before that portion could be started, said Kathleen Mathews, special programs director for In-fill Housing, the housing authority’s nonprofit development arm.
“We’ve had such good momentum going so we can really get started quickly with this last one and finally put the bow on the redevelopment project,” Mathews said.
Once completed, Tindall Fields will also consist of a second phase comprised of 64 family apartments while the final two phases would include 130 multifamily units.
The first phase — the 76 unit Tindall Seniors Towers — opened earlier this year.
Construction on the second phase is on target to be finished in early 2019 while the final two stages should be finished in 2020 and early 2021, according to the housing authority.
Another component is 8.5 acres of commercial development near Tindall Fields, which is being built near Little Richard Penniman Boulevard and Mercer University.
Tindall Fields is a part of a larger transformational plan that housing officials and various community partners have crafted based on input from the community, housing leaders said.
The design of Tindall Fields — smaller apartment buildings — is a shift from the public housing complexes built in decades past.
“In the 50s and 60s and 70s, the way we built (public housing) was basically to go up,” Austin said. “So we would take relatively small spaces of land and build tons and tons of units thereby concentrating a lot of people in one spot. Because of decades of inadequate funding and in some cases poor management, you’d see a lot of heartbreaking stories come out of them.
“Now we build affordable housing a little differently,” Austin said. “We try to add value to communities. We try to make it really nice and try to incorporate services and we try to transform a neighborhood and make it an asset.”