New affordable housing for older adults may be on the way for Chattanooga as a church looks to partner with a local nonprofit and an Atlanta venture in an at least $20 million project.
St. Alban's Episcopal Church on Hixson Pike near Gold Point Circle is seeking a zoning change on 7.7 acres that would make way for at least 73 one- and two-bedroom apartments and provide space for a new church building, the Rev. Robert Hartmans said.
"It's a tremendous need" for affordable housing for older adults, he said in a phone interview Monday. "The way I understand it, it's critical."
An initial phase of work calls for the units to go in a three-story structure, Hartmans said. A zoning application with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency said no more than 140 units eventually might go up at the site.
Hartmans said plans are to take down the existing church sanctuary and construct a new one attached to the building. He said the church could share space and have use of a meeting room, an office and storage.
Richelle Patton, president of Atlanta-based Collaborative Housing Solutions, said a second phase could come but that remains to be seen.
"The stars have to align to get the financing," she said by phone.
Patton said her for-profit company is mission-based and an experienced housing developer that partners with churches and nonprofits to help those groups implement their visions. Collaborative Housing will jointly own the proposed project with St. Alban's and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, the locally based nonprofit housing group, she said.
"We're involved in project management, securing financing, due diligence, overseeing construction and we'll own it together," Patton said.
If the proposal receives approvals from the Regional Planning Commission in April and later with the city, work could start early next year with the new building up in 2025, Hartmans said.
Units would be available to people not making more than 60% of the area medium income, Patton said. In Chattanooga, that would qualify a two-person household earning about $36,000 maximum, Patton said.
The location would hold a lot of amenities, including walking trails on the site that's not far from the entrance of Chester Frost Park, she said.
"It's not just sticks and bricks," Patton said. "It will bring a nice quality of life for folks in their later years."
Hartmans said the church started having talks during the pandemic about how to leverage the property against long-term financial issues, such as keeping up the building and grounds.
"Financially for the church, we hand over the cost of utilities, maintenance, landscaping to the group," he said. "Also, the property is used for the gospel of Jesus Christ."
About 150 people are part of the church, and while some are heartbroken at the possibility of taking down the existing facility, "I'd say we have total buy-in from our community to move forward. Folks understand the need for it," Hartmans said.
In addition, he said, a lot of church members are excited about developing a relationship with the residents of the housing.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318.