In applying for a permit to build a 60-unit housing complex for senior citizens in Chickamauga, local developer Jerry Braden said, "There's a very serious need for senior living here," and the city council seemed to agree.
During the same meeting last month, the council approved a resolution supporting the construction of more housing specifically for seniors in the city.
Following the city council's approval of Braden's project, tentatively titled The Village at Chickamauga Phase II, the planning commission approved an 80-unit senior complex due to be built by The Woda Group on General Bushrod Johnson Avenue.
Census figures show a nearly 22 percent increase in the number of seniors calling the city home, and Braden said he's seen the need for dedicated housing firsthand. He has operated the 40-unit Village at Chickamauga, located next door to where he plans to build Phase II, since 2008.
"The average age in our senior facilities is 76. I'm 73, and I'm just ahead of all the baby boomers. The need is only going to grow," he said.
Braden said he's looking forward to offering more affordable housing to North Georgia seniors should his application for tax credits be approved. He's planning on renting out the apartments in Phase II for around $375 to $425, which he said is comparable to nearby facilities.
Braden has been interested in expanding his senior living complex in Chickamauga for several years, he said, but acquiring the means to fund it has been difficult. He said recent changes to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs' bidding process make it easier for senior living facilities to acquire funding, and he's more confident Phase II could become a reality now.
"We didn't apply last year, but we calculated it if we had we would have been very close, but we would not have gotten funded," said Braden. "This year I think we have a much better chance."
He will know around late October or early November whether his application will be approved. If so approved, the process of soil and water sampling on the property would then be scheduled, with a tentative groundbreaking in the spring of 2018. Braden said he expects construction to take around a year.
Braden has decades of experience in contracting and real estate development; he owns over 60 properties throughout the states of Georgia and Alabama, 45 of which are senior living facilities, he said. Among his properties is nearby Lone Mountain Village in Ringgold, which he said is comparable to what he has in mind for The Village at Chickamauga Phase II.
The Woda Group could not be reached for comment.