James Breedwell lived in the former Jaycee Towers for several years before moving out and then returning again last year.
Breedwell, a retired restaurateur and bar owner, was lured to return to the 18-story downtown apartment complex for the elderly after a national housing company took over the facility and began a $6 million-plus renovation.
"The entire building has been renovated and is much better now," said Breedwell, who was elected president of the River View Towers Residents Council after the renovation began. "It's a much better facility now and really a great place to live."
With the assistance of a Housing and Urban Development department loan and city tax abatements, the high-rise is also one of the most affordable downtown, if you are at least 62 years old and have only a modest income to qualify for the assistance.
"There is still affordable rental housing downtown if you meet our criteria," said Sandra Derring, property manager for the new River View Towers for the past year. "With the right age and income, you can rent one of our newly renovated units for only $650 a month."
For most of the past half century ago since the high-rise was built, the Jaycee Towers on the west side of downtown were owned and operated by the Chattanooga Jayees Club and, most recently, with one of its tenants, Wishrock Housing Partners.
With the aid of the Chattanooga Housing Authority, Wishrock paid the Jaycees Future Corp., $3.6 million to buy the apartment complex and to help secure property tax abatements under a payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) agreement endorsed by the city and approval of the Chattanooga Housing Authority to hold a 40-year lease on the property. Wishrock is spending $6 million or more for the building renovation, which Derring said should be complete by Sept. 1.
WishRock began renovating the building last summer and and has since replaced nearly all of the furniture, appliances and carpet. The apartment owners are shrinking the number of apartments in the downtown high-rise from 190 back to 175.
The revamped tower now boasts 67 one-bedroom units, 30 units with bedroom and den combinations, and another 60 units that were revamped as one- or two-bedroom units. The rental rates on the units start at about $650 a month, Derring said.
But to live in the affordable downtown rental units on the West Side, you must be at least 62 years old and have an income of no more than $25,020 for a single person and $29,640 for a married couple.
Wishrock develops and invests in affordable housing properties nationwide. Collectively, the company has developed or redeveloped over 11,000 units of affordable apartment housing since the early 1970's.
Contact Dave Flessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340