Covington accepts $ 22million bond issue for Magnolia Heights renovation



COVINGTON, Georgia. – Magnolia Heights Apartments are set for renovation after a $ 22 million bond issue by Covington Housing Authority for a Valdosta-based property management company was recently approved by city council.

Ambling Covington, a limited partnership that was formed in April, according to the Secretary of State’s website, filed an application earlier this year with the Covington Housing Authority for tax-exempt tax liability or funding per ticket for the “Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Equipment” of the 200 Multi-Family Housing Development located at 10156 Magnolia Heights Circle.

By approving the bond issuance, the City of Covington is not indebted or obligated to financially support the bond. The bonds must “be payable only out of the income derived from [Ambling] and agreed to pay it, ”says the resolution. The City of Covington has been asked to approve the bond issuance to meet tax code requirements, said Allison Dyer, Holland & Knight partner and bond advisor.

An Ambling representative was on hand to talk about plans to renovate the 20-year-old complex and its impact on the neighborhood. He said construction was scheduled to start in February, unless it failed, and would take between 12 and 18 months. During construction, only one or two buildings would be renovated at a time, he said. The apartment complex was currently creating vacant units to leave enough space to temporarily relocate tenants on site while renovations are completed.

Rent rates wouldn’t change much, Ambling’s rep said. In fact, the rates for one-bedroom units (currently $ 702 to $ 950 per month) and two-bedroom units ($ 842 to $ 1,050) would decrease on average. Only three-bedroom units ($ 969 to $ 1,150) would increase, but not by much, he said. Ambling’s representative confirmed that there were protections in place that would prevent current renters’ rates from changing for at least a year after moving into renovated housing.

The renovations would involve changes inside and outside of each unit. Ambling plans to spend up to $ 55,000 on upgrades per unit. The plans include, but are not limited to, a new roof, new HVAC, electrical and plumbing work and the addition of new equipment. It was also planned to spend more than $ 130,000 on a new 32-camera CCTV system in the apartment complex to fight crime and improve quality of life.

The Ambling representative said that Magnolia Heights Apartments are currently limited to 70% affordable housing, but after renovations there will be a proposal to change that rate to 100%.

At its Monday November 15 meeting, Covington City Council voted 4-2 to pass a resolution that approved the bond issuance and certifies that a public hearing had been held by the Covington Housing Authority. But the approval did not come without a challenge.

Councilor Fleeta Baggett, who was one of the two opposing voices, initially asked the council to reject the request to issue bonds.

Baggett was visibly frustrated with plans to restrict the apartment complex to 100% affordable housing, and she also expressed her displeasure that no one directly affiliated with the housing authority was present at the meeting. . She said it was the first time council had heard of the housing authority’s plans.

“Unfortunately for you,” Baggett told Ambling’s rep and Dyer, “the housing authority hasn’t given us clear parameters lately. And I’m very uncomfortable with that. this reason, I mean, how many more projects do they have going on? I mean, we just heard about it. We had the whole Baker Field debacle a month ago. Now we move on. thing, point 10 is a whole different thing… and nobody can come in? I’m a tough ‘no’.

Councilor Don Floyd (who also voted against the bond issuance) seconded Baggett’s motion, but the decision to decline fell 4-2. Only Baggett and Floyd voted in favor of the refusal.

To clarify, Ambling’s representative said the Affordable Rent Program for Magnolia Heights requires potential tenants to pass background and credit checks and pay rent. He said most renters pay themselves and do not receive a voucher or rental assistance.

“In this program, affordable housing is not provided through a monthly subsidy to tenants, but rather by offering tax credits to finance the project, and then, in return, the developer keeps rents artificially below the market.” , said the representative.

He said if council did not approve other options to fund the project would be exhausted, but he felt it was the most viable option for this specific property.

Councilor Anthony Henderson ultimately moved the motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Councilor Hawnethia Williams. He was then passed 4-2.

Henderson said he was initially concerned with approving the proposed bonds and the proposed project, but said the benefit of improved quality of life was what made the difference for him.

“We have to realize that a lot of people living in this community may not have the capacity to pay full market rent,” said Henderson. “It gives people the opportunity to have a great quality of life and a great place to live. “

The next business point, as Baggett alluded to previously, was another request for Covington City Council to approve a bond issue, but this time from the Covington Housing Authority at the Jackson Highway Reservation, LP , in the amount of $ 23 million to finance the “acquisition, construction and equipment” of a 102-unit multi-family housing project to be located at 9155 SW Jackson Highway.

The Jackson Highway Reserve is a national limited partnership formed by Cogency Global Inc. on June 30 and based in Woodland Hills, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Developer Keith Bauer said plans would see 72 single-family homes built on the property and 30 townhouses that would be available for long-term rental.

“We have been told [at the time of the land sale]that they wouldn’t be rentals, ”Baggett said

Bauer responded by saying that the goal would be to work towards home ownership.

“We designed it to be an affordable housing project,” he said. “It will start with the long-term rental of single-family units and townhouses. Then our exit strategy would be to sell them as low income and affordable homes. ”

He said they were working with the housing authority on funding.

At this point, City Councilor Kenneth Morgan said he did not understand the issue of the housing authority’s lack of this particular request, as well as the previous request.

“We have approved things like this all the time without the representation being here,” he said. ” I do not know why [we say tonight], ‘Well, where is the housing authority?’ We did it all the time… I think it’s an overflow of what happened [with Baker Field], but what happened has nothing to do with this particular situation.

“I make no apologies for asking questions,” Baggett said to rebut Morgan’s comments. “I apologize if I personally am being rude, but we have had blisters and it will not happen again. Not in my custody. And I’m sitting here with four pages of stuff that the housing authority has. I can’t even begin to tell you when I started digging what I found. We either have to table it or they have to show up. Because I don’t want to put my name on this stuff. And to say that they are not there is no excuse. If it’s important to put their name on the bond, it’s important enough that they show up for $ 22 million.

“We are also on the verge of implementing a program whereby $ 350,000 will improve the homes of the people who are here,” Baggett continued later. “$ 750,000 goes to the people who buy their homes. At some point, you have to stop. I’ll be happy to give everyone copies of what I’ve reviewed over the weekend. It is very important that we are on top of this. We can’t go from one extreme to the other and say, “We have nowhere to eat; we have nothing to do for people; we have none of that; we have none of that; traffic, traffic, traffic; ‘ and then you are ready to turn around and start over? I am just stunned. And it doesn’t have to be that. I’m talking about the Neely property. I’m talking about all of this. I mean, you put all the brakes on it.

Horton suggested that council table the item taking into account issues surrounding the proposed development, including what was originally approved when the property was sold and what was discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Bauer appeared to have no problem with the council filing the request and said his development group was ready to work with the city in any way they needed to.

“We try to provide you with the best quality affordable housing in this area,” said Bauer.

Williams said the problem was the stigma associated with the term “affordable housing” or “low-income housing”.

“Sir, there is a real stigma here in Covington with affordable housing,” she told Bauer. “They see too many low-income people, too many brown and black people who come with low income. It’s basically the stigma associated with low-rental housing. Whenever you talk about low-cost housing, people all over the room frown and say, “Oh Lord, there they are.” There are already too many. We don’t want any more. People need quality of life whether they are black, white, purple, green or polka dot. The stigma of the structure caused the anti-sentiment against the affordable [housing]. Whenever we talk about affordability, we are stepping into a boxing match… Our concern should be to provide quality of life for people who [are in]need.”

Once the discussion was over, the item was postponed to January 18.



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