City also made $3.7 million commitment to help the project move forward

Decatur approved the design plan and committed to help finance an affordable housing project in one of the city’s parks.

Legacy Park’s south housing village is poised to get 132 units, consisting of apartments, stacked flats and duplexes, for low-income residents. The city partnered with the Decatur Housing Authority to bring the plan to fruition, and the City Commission approved the project’s design plan at their April 18 meeting.

The six-acre development, which is located off South Columbia and Katie Kerr drives, has been in the works since 2018. The city purchased the former United Methodist Children’s Home and the surrounding 77-acre plot of greenspace, and city leaders determined the land was one of their last opportunities to provide affordable housing for a city that has struggled to stymie rising rents.

Doug Foust, the housing authority’s executive director, previously said the average apartment will be for residents who make below 60% of the area median income (AMI), which is $51,720 per year for a family of four in Decatur. To meet that requirement, rent for a two-bedroom unit would be capped at $1,164 a month. A few units could be listed as market rate — $1,940 per month for a two-bedroom unit — but the average can’t surpass 60% of the AMI.

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To finance the project, the housing authority will apply for federal low-income housing tax credits, which requires the city to chip in additional funds. City Manager Andrea Arnold said the city would contribute roughly $3.7 million to the project using American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“The worst-case scenario is the full $3.7 million may come from ARPA funds,” Arnold said during the April 18 meeting. “But we’re also reserving the option that if we have funds from other sources that could be contributed to the $3.7 million, (we could) reduce the amount from ARPA funds.”

The city’s contribution will mostly go toward public infrastructure needed on the site, including roads, sidewalks and stormwater systems. Foust estimated the entire south housing village project will cost about $42 million.

The plan is split into two phases, each of which include 66 housing units. Once completed, the village should include 60 one-bedroom units, 48 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units. Amenities will include a community center, outdoor recreation space, community gardens and several pavilions.

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A north housing village project has also been proposed for Legacy Park, but that potential development consisting of single-family and duplex cottages is being kept separate for now.

The housing authority expects to finish building phase one of the south housing village by May 2024, and phase two should finish construction a year later.