published Sunday, July 31st, 2011

LaFayette clearing way for new public housing complex

By Timothy Bradfield
Ruth Bass, executive director of the LaFayette, Ga.,Housing Authority, points out cracks in a public housing building scheduled for demolition this year.
Photo by correspondent Timothy Bradfield
Ruth Bass, executive director of the LaFayette, Ga.,Housing Authority, points out cracks in a public housing building scheduled for demolition this year. Photo by correspondent Timothy Bradfield
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LaFAYETTE, Ga.—A major public housing construction project is on the horizon here.

Before the year ends, LaFayette Housing Authority officials say, they will begin demolishing four two-story buildings that house 30 units at Patterson Heights.

The buildings will be replaced by 15 duplexes -- spread among three different housing authority properties -- containing 30 units.

The entire project, housing officials say, will cost roughly $5.1 million.

"We haven't let anything go to save up the money," housing authority Executive Director Ruth Bass said. "We've just been very prudent with how we've managed our money."

She said the authority has been banking surplus cash since 1993, creating a multimillion-dollar reserve.

Bass said the decision was made not to renovate the 1970s-era buildings, which have cracked foundations, warped floors and unsightly exteriors, because it would be cost prohibitive.

"That is an eyesore," said public housing resident Terry Weathers, who lives across the parking lot from the buildings.

"I think it'll be nicer," his neighbor Lamar Davis said after learning about the construction project, which housing authority officials say will be green-certified.

"We won't use as much energy," Bass said. "We won't have as big of a carbon footprint."

The four buildings now scheduled for demolition sit empty.

Their replacements -- in high demand -- are scheduled to be completed in August 2012.

"We've got a waiting list probably four to six months after you apply," Bass said.

Timothy Bradfield covers Walker County. Contact him at timothyb2010@gmail.com.

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