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Feds OK Macon’s Tindall Heights for demolition

A man carries bags along a sidewalk in Tindall Heights Homes in this April 2015 file photo. The demolition of public housing at Tindall Heights has been approved by the federal government, according to the Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority.
A man carries bags along a sidewalk in Tindall Heights Homes in this April 2015 file photo. The demolition of public housing at Tindall Heights has been approved by the federal government, according to the Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority. wmarshall@macon.com

A hurdle was cleared this week for a potential $40-plus million redevelopment project at the site of Macon’s Tindall Heights public housing complex.

The Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the demolition of the 412 housing unit at the southern edge of Mercer University near Little Richard Penniman Boulevard. The housing authority will learn by the end of the year if the Georgia Department of Community Affairs will approve its application for low income tax credits that would pay for the first phase of the project -- a 76-unit senior housing complex.

“This is a very competitive process. Tax credit allocation is in high demand, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for good things in the fall,” said Bruce Gerwig, president of In-Fill Housing, a nonprofit working under the umbrella of the housing authority.

The housing authority also will apply for tax credits for each of the other three phases that include plans for 194 family units and 8.5 acres for commercial development.

The authority was unsuccessful for several years with another HUD program that would have provided funding for developments. This week’s HUD clearance is a major hurdle crossed, officials said.

“We’ve been working on this for years and just wondering if anything will ever come from it,” Gerwig said. “This is an important first step, and we’re thrilled they approved it.”

The authority is in the process of applying for roughly 390 vouchers to assist with the relocation of tenants. Tindall Heights residents who are not eligible for the vouchers will be able to move into Section 8 housing, Gerwig said.

Once the area has been revitalized, current residents who meet the authority’s eligibility criteria would be able to return.

“The relocation followed by demolition will take up this fall and a lot of next year,” Gerwig said.

Tindall Heights is located near the recently completed first phase of a major Second Street corridor road project that will better connect Mercer University with downtown Macon and other areas.

Mayor Robert Reichert said the vision for Tindall Heights fits in “beautifully” with the other redevelopment in that area. Plans for the commercial tract along Penniman should complement the work being done by Mercer.

“We want to do something of that caliber, and we’re thrilled with what’s going on up the street,” Reichert said. “That’s a lot of investment between what Mercer is doing and Macon-Bibb is doing with the improvement to (Penniman).”

Built in 1940, Tindall Heights is Macon-Bibb’s oldest public housing complex. The plans call for the complex to be reduced from 412 units to 270 units over several years.

“The authority’s mission is to add value to our community and the lives of those we serve through quality housing, support services, and community development,” which can be accomplished by the demolition of the current Tindall Heights, June Parker, CEO of the housing authority, said in a news release.

Plumbing issues are among the varying maintenance problems that arise at the current Tindall Heights units, said resident Tina Foster.

“I think (the demolition and rebuilding plans are) a good thing because (the complex) is so old, and not only that but so many troubling things happen in the apartment,” Foster said.

Each resident will have a case worker help them with the relocation, Gerwig said.

That assistance, Foster said, is needed in order to find a place relatively quickly.

“In order to find something that you’re comfortable and content with, it’ll take a lot of time,” she said.

Information from the Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623.

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