Authority attorney Stewart Duggan said the original developer, Ashland Park Partners/Hammond Development, is ready to exit the project and turn it over to the housing authority. However, there are issues with a retaining wall at the property which represent a potential liability and hazard.
The wall in question is located on the back side of the apartments, not visible from the highway, in front of the 700 and 800 buildings.
Duggan said the developer is willing to repair the wall, at a cost of approximately $1.2 million, but wants guarantees that the housing authority will reimburse them.
"Basically what they want to do is give us the property for the debt that remains on it, which is $5.4 million, plus the cost of the retaining wall which is another $1.2 million," Duggan said. "We're fine with that except we want to make sure the appraisal comes in correctly."
Duggan said he expects the results of that appraisal to come in within two weeks.
"We think it will come back at $10 million to $11 million," Duggan said. The authority would then re-syndicate the property and potentially net $1.5 million to $1.8 million on the deal, Duggan said. “But it's going to take two years to get it done.”
NWGHA Director Sandra Hudson said the 184-unit apartment complex is already in much better shape than it was before the housing authority got involved with the original developers a couple of years ago.
Authority Chairwoman Lee Hight, playing the devil's advocate, asked the attorney what happens if the appraisal doesn't come back as Duggan anticipates.
"We may just punt on the deal or try to figure out another avenue for it," Duggan said. "It was last appraised in 2011 for $12 million, however that was based on rent roles that were far less appealing than what we have now."
Hudson said the apartments are presently 97-98 percent occupied.
Housing consultant Cheryl Molock said wait lists for public housing now number more than 1,200 individuals.
"There are so many people who are homeless," Hudson said.
Hight responded that she does not believe the average Roman understands the extent of the problem.
"I don't think Rome understands the need for affordable housing," Hight said.
Lisa Massey, leading the modernization office for the housing authority on an interim basis, said she hopes to turn over five new units at the Joe Wright Village in North Rome ready for occupancy before the end of December.
Foundations have been poured for replacement housing in the 1200 and 1300 block of Maple Avenue and framing is slated to begin next week.
While the authority was recently approved for tax credits to build more than 60 new replacement units at Altoview Terrace in East Rome, Duggan said, the deal is not likely to close until summer of 2019 at the earliest. Construction is not likely to begin until fall of next year and the new units not ready until late 2020 or early 2021.