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East Albany Dune Development remains empty

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- A reported $20 million development in East Albany and the adjoining property that once had a future as low- to moderate-income housing sit abandoned and vacant, even as a $500,000 loan payment looms on the horizon.

The Enclave at Oglethorpe, which was billed as a $20 million development in East Albany near the sand dunes that would provide moderate to upscale townhouses close to downtown, has turned in reality to a mere row of shattered windows, busted garage doors and overgrown weeds.

First constructed in 2007, tax records show that the property fell into foreclosure in April 2009, before being bought by Georgia Affordable Housing Corporation.

The property has turned into a favorite target for vandals, who have broken windows and damaged walls in many of the townhouses.

The property is currently listed on a broker Web site for sale at $995,000. According to that site, the development was originally planned to be a 44-house, two-stage development, but to date, only eight houses have been built.

The adjoining property, University Gardens, was planned to be developed into low- to moderate-income housing -- possibly catering to students at nearby Albany State University.

The plan, organized by developer Rod Mullis, earned $500,000 in federal Community Development Block loans, which were awarded by the city to acquire the property in hopes of giving a boost to get the development off the ground, Assistant City Manager James Taylor said.

"That loan was designed to help the developer acquire the land for this low-income housing," Taylor said.

Albany Community and Economic Development Director Latoya Cutts said that when the loan was approved, Mullis had agreed to go beyond the city's requirements for the percentage of low- to moderate-income housing required for the development, agreeing to build 75 percent of the development geared to that demographic.

"But it appears now that the developer is looking more toward constructing suites and apartments that aren't low- to moderate-income," Cutts said.

If that happens, Mullis, who is required to start paying the $500,000 back this summer, will instead have to pay it back immediately, Taylor said.

Mullis was unable to reach The Herald before press deadline, despite returning phone calls, but Taylor said that he had met with Mullis on a few occasions to discuss the development. Taylor said that Mullis indicated a willingness to continue with the project, but what it specifically may be hasn't been hammered out yet.