Decatur Housing Authority’s Oliver House Honored

Written by Keith Loria. As published in Multi-Housing News, on November 7, 2013.

Decatur, Ga.—The Atlanta Regional Commission named Oliver House, a new affordable seniors housing community developed by the Decatur Housing Authority, the 2013 Development of Excellence.

Oliver House is the second of the three phases of the DHA’s ongoing $30 million redevelopment of Allen Wilson Terrace, a 200-unit public housing community built in 1941.

“Despite its worsening condition, this physically obsolete community enjoyed an exceptional location near downtown Decatur with immediate access to public transportation and proximity to shopping, restaurants, churches, parks and recreation facilities,” Doug Faust, Decatur Housing Authority’s executive director, says. “Decatur Housing Authority engaged in a unique revitalization planning process designed to retain the residents in the area while constructing the energy efficient green community of Oliver House designated for elderly residents with solar energy, rainwater harvesting and reuse, geothermal heating, and energy star appliances.”

Oliver House consists of one four-story “Williamsburg Style” building with 72 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments that are designated for the elderly. The building is equipped with two elevators and includes many common spaces for the residents to enjoy, including a two-story entrance lobby with a reception center, meeting room, second floor roof garden terrace, fitness center, card room, computer room, sun/media room and library.

“The central courtyard of this U-shaped building is landscaped and features a covered porch/patio seating area, resident gardens, and privacy fencing,” Faust says. “Additionally, there is approximately 0.72 acres of landscaped ‘Green Space’ with sidewalks linking the community to half a mile of paved walkways.”

DHA heavily leveraged its investment in Oliver House by utilizing a variety of financing methods. It secured nine percent Low Income Tax Credits and Georgia State Tax Credits through a competitive process in 2009 by acting as its own developer.

By installing solar panels, DHA received $75,727 in equity for solar credits sold to its investor, Hudson Capital. DHA utilized $372,800 of its excess Public Housing operating reserves and gained HUD’s approval to utilize these funds through the Operating Fund Financing Program. With its investment of $1.21 million, DHA was able to leverage $11.1 million in other project funding, or a ratio of $9.80 to every $1.00 DHA dollar.

“Oliver House was built under the EarthCraft Certification Program, designed to address climate, energy, and water issues unique to the southeastern United States,” Faust says. “EarthCraft serves as a blueprint for energy and resource efficient single-family homes, multifamily structures, renovation projects, community developments and light-commercial buildings.”

The Oliver House campus is adjacent to the Central Business District of the City of Decatur. With its tree lined streets and more than 60 miles of sidewalks in 4.2 square miles, it’s a prime location for walking. It’s also in close proximity to a range of fine dining and shopping.