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Photo by Dave Flessner / The Boynton Terrace towner at 959 Boynton Drive on Chattanooga's Westside is the last of three towers that the Chattanooga Housing Authority has renovated in the biggest upgrade of the facilities since they were built in 1971.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:49 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, 2021, to correct the number of units in the third tower to 87 in the third paragraph.

The last of the three Boynton Towers to be renovated on Chattanooga's Westside will soon begin housing residents again after a $13 million upgrade refurbished the 50-year-old apartments targeted at housing low- and moderate-income seniors.

The restoration replaced stained floors, leaking windows and shabby kitchens with brighter, newer and more energy-efficient units.

The Chattanooga Housing Authority, which used federal HUD grants to pay for the $13 million costs of the upgrades at the three towers, will celebrate the completion of the 5-year renovation project on Saturday. The final 87-unit tower at 959 Boynton Drive was finished this week and qualified tenants from CHA's waiting list will soon begin moving into the renovated complex.

Bennie Haynes, the president of the Boynton Towers residents council, has lived in one of the high-rise units off West M.L. King Boulevard for nearly two decades and said tenants are pleased to see the new improvements and the end of the construction work.

"Most everybody thinks the improvements have been a good thing and were needed to these buildings since there hadn't previously been any major work done on these units since they were built in 1971," Haynes said. "The only problem I gather from residents is they can't any longer open their windows, which some of them used to like to do."

But Haynes, an avid fisherman, said he has enjoyed the 8th-floor view of the Tennessee River he now enjoys out the expanded windows in his new apartment.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Lonnie Edwards, the project manager for the renovation of Boynton Terrace Apartments, stands outside of one of the towers in 2017 when work first began on renovating the units.

The new and bigger windows are designed to not only let more light in the buildings but also be more energy efficient, according to Lonnie Edwards, one of the project managers for the renovation of the towers. Combined with LED lighting and new heating and air conditioning systems, the renovations have helped to signifcantly cut energy use and power consumption at all three of the towers.

"Before when you went into the towers, the apartments were kind of dark and dreary and now when you go into these buildings they have freshly painted walls and new flooring and windows to make the towers much brighter, cleaner and more beautiful," Edwards said. "It looks great."

The Boynton Towers include 250 residential units built to provide housing for those age 62 and above whose incomes are less than 80% of the median income in the area. The complex also includes a community room and an office area.

Since the work began at the Boynton Terrace in 2016, many of the tenants have had to be relocated during the renovation.

"The residents were very cooperative while this work has been going on," said Betsy McCright, executive director of the Chattanooga Housing Authority. "We've had to relocate people from one tower to another while we made these improvements, but for the most part they have been very understanding and flexible."

During the restoration, contractors hired by CHA engaged in a lead and asbestos removal and remediation program and installed new floors, furnishings, kitchen appliances, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, windows and other improvements, Edwards said.

CHA provides housing for low-income elderly residents at Boynton Towers and Wheeler Homes as part of a total of 1,750 units the housing authority continues to own and operate across Chattanooga. CHA also offers assistance to some 3,900 qualified families or individuals in privately owned subsidized housing units through Section 8 vouchers.

In the Westside, CHA also owns College Hill Courts, Dogwood Manor and Gateway Tower. Nearby, the Riverview Tower, formerly the Jaycee Towers, and Boynton Overlook are privately owned and receive rental subsidies for low-income tenants.

McCright said some sidewalk and other exterior improvements are also planned in the area and CHA is working with the city of Chattanooga and the Urban Design Institute on a new plan for the entire Westside area. Preliminary recommendations for the 120-acre Westside area will be unveiled Saturday during a block party from 1-5 p.m. on Grove Street in front of the former James A. Henry school following the formal grand opening of the 959 Boynton Terrace Tower.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340

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