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Pembroke OKs ‘workforce’ housing

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POSTED: April 19, 2014 8:00 a.m.

The Pembroke City Council approved a resolution Monday that officials hope will one day bring the city a new development.

But the unanimous vote during the regular meeting at City Hall to back Sawmill Landing, a proposed 60-unit tax-credit development near Surrency Street, is only a step toward what council member Tiffany Walraven called the need for more affordable housing in Pembroke.

“Our city doesn’t have a lot of available housing, so a lot of people are forced to go out to Black Creek,” she said. “Without someone coming in and bringing that sort of housing in, we’re lacking the ability to bring young people into the city and that could hurt us in the future.”

The vote doesn’t ensure the city will get the project, Mayor Mary Warnell noted.

“This is not a guarantee,” she said. “This is an application. The state usually funds about 30 of these a year, so we’re competing with the entire state of Georgia.”

The project would be built by Camden County-based builder W.H. Gross — who, if selected by the state’s Department of Community Affairs Office of Affordable Housing, would get tax credits to build the homes and then pass the savings on to buyers or renters. The company has a similar development in Cordele called Rosewood, and local officials took a trip there to take a look. They came back impressed.

“It’s been there several years and it looks like it just opened,” Warnell said.

Walraven called it a “first-class development,” and repeatedly stressed the intent is not to bring in subsidized housing but rather “workforce housing, something the average worker might live in, like ourselves.”

Residents must undergo background checks and be employed, and the state requires the developer to maintain the property.

“It’s adding quality housing to our community, not just spec-built housing,” Walraven said. “It’s very nice and has to be kept up to standards … It will add a very nice aspect to our city and increase our economy.”

Richmond Hill is already getting a DCA tax-credit community, called Ashleigh Place. The $11.6 million project is an 80-unit mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors in Richmond Place is off Timber Trail Road. It is being built by Humanities Foundation.

 

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