Vantage Development's Paul Robinson takes to the podium Thursday to thank those responsible for getting the multi-million, 93-unit facility off the ground.
ALBANY, Ga. — Both city officials and private developers applauded the completion of three phases of the Southlake master plan development Thursday, heralding the project as the perfect example of how public-private partnerships should work.
Click HERE to read the narrative on Southlake's impact on the community as submitted by the Vantage Group.
The ribbon cutting on the 93-unit, low-to-moderate income and senior living community, comes after years of planning and construction.
Paul Robinson, an official with the Vantage Group that was in charge of the project, said that it is more than $21 million in scope. The development — a mix of federal and state tax credits, federal HOME dollars through the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development, and stimulus money along with private funding — will pay $135,000-$160,000 in local property taxes each year, he said.
“This development only came to fruition through a team effort at the local, state, federal and private level,” Robinson said. “The teamwork here was staggering and, in the end, we’ve rehabilitated a blighted neighborhood and have provided homes to those who need them.”
It was because of that teamwork that Vantage was able to build the units despite the fact construction spanned the period during which the recession was hitting its hardest locally, Robinson said.
“If it hadn’t been for the city’s HOME program, the tax credits, those investors who bought the credits and the stimulus, it would’ve been tough to pull it all off,” Robinson said.
Ward VI City Commissioner Tommie Postell gushed at the development, saying that the project had transformed the neighborhood.
“Before when you’d drive by, this area looked like Beirut, like it had been bombarded,” Postell said. “Now, the people of this part of Albany have something to be proud of.”
Kenneth Cutts, the head of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop’s District Office in Albany, said that project was the poster child for how public-private partnerships should work.
“Here you have an organization that went out and did their homework — applied for tax breaks, worked with the city, and brought their own assets to the table — and it has paid off big for the community,” Cutts said.
And on the same day that the ribbon was cut on the Landing at Southlake — the second of three phases — Vantage officials announced that they had already leased 100 percent of their third phase, the Cove at Southlake.
Vantage’s announcement comes at a crucial time for the city’s low-income housing development efforts.
Plagued by news about failed developments like University Gardens in East Albany and the Cutliff Grove development in central Albany, taxpayer-subsidized low-income housing efforts have become political hot potatoes.
But Robinson said Thursday that when skilled developers do their homework and local government does its homework, the projects can work out well.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a need for low- to moderate-income housing here,” Robinson said. “But you have to try and work with a developer who has done it before and who has a proven track record. It’s always going to be risky because of things like the economy and other outside forces at play, but you can reduce the risk when you have good people working together.”