The move was considered a devastating blow to the city's most needy citizens. For the last 15 years, the 102-year-old building — which in June 1990 was occupied by homeless people and advocates — had provided an affordable place to stay for Atlantans living on low incomes and formerly homeless men and women.
Well, last week, Atlanta-based affordable housing developer Columbia Residential and National Church Residences, a nonprofit provider of senior and permanent supportive housing, quietly scooped up the property — once one of the city's leading hotels and home to nightlife hotspots — after nearly a year of discussions with the state and city over funding.
Rather than converting the single-occupancy rooms into pricey condos — or just sit on the building until the market recovered — the joint venture over the next two years plans to, according to a press release: "[C]ontinue to serve low- to moderate-income residents exiting homelessness and others with special needs by providing supportive services in a secure, high-quality affordable rental housing community." Current residents will have to be relocated prior to the renovation but will have the option to return.
Via the Columbia Residential and NCR's announcement:
The renovated building is expected to contain 90 fully renovated units, with improved floor plan configurations, fully updated leasing and management offices, resident amenities and spaces for case managers and service providers and onsite security.
The extensive repairs will require a careful relocation of existing residents prior to construction. Residents will have the opportunity to return to the newly renovated building. In the meantime current residents will be provided with replacement housing and continuation of supportive services through careful work by Columbia and NCR staff.
The new owners have applied for a complex array of funding to ensure a long-term, sustainable community with a comprehensive replacement/update of building systems, unit interiors and management and amenity areas, enhanced security features, as well as updating to a sustainable (LEED-certified) energy-efficient building.
The joint venture is committed to historic preservation, maintaining the Imperial’s landmark character while updating the interiors and operations to a 21st century standard.
UPDATE, 4:06 p.m.: A spokeswoman tells us about the project's public funding:
Well, the state of Georgia and city of Atlanta have been instrumental in working to save the Imperial from foreclosure, as well as working with the Columbia and NCR development team on financing for the redevelopment. The development team made applications for project construction/redevelopment financing last year to State and City. The State has awarded low income housing tax credits to the project for redevelopment and mortgage financing. The City has also committed mortgage financing for the new development. The funding commitments, along with private investment sources, will allow for a comprehensive renovation of the building and a sustainable capital structure for long-term operation as permanent supportive housing.
The redevelopment of the Imperial as permanent supportive housing would not even be possible without the support and commitments of the state and city.
Atlanta history buffs will want to read the city's interesting write-up about the building's past. Little Richard and Fats Domino once performed in the hotel's lounge.
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