CHA Planning 1,783 Housing Units At Re-Envisioned Westside

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Officials of the Chattanooga Housing Authority said the plan to re-envision the Westside includes building 1,783 new housing units.

Betsy McCright, CHA executive director, said the College Hill Courts and the Gateway Tower will be taken down, but she said residents in those 629 have been promised a spot in some of the new housing.

She said the demolition will be in stages with residents of the first College Hill Courts building that is razed eligible to move into new housing planned at the current Youth and Family Development center, which will be taken down. She said the College Hill Courts demolition would not start until the first new housing is ready.

Ms. McCright told the City Council that a key to the project will be a facelift at the James A. Henry School, which will become the new community center offering classes for residents and other services. The nearby Shelia Jennings Park will also be fixed up.

RFP Consultants was chosen to lead the implementation. An RFP has been issued for a master developer. She said a contract would be issued at the end of the month for a detailed plan on remodeling the Henry School.

Ms. McCright said developers who specialized in low income housing tax credits will be heavily involved.

Eric Myers, director of the Design Studio, said the final product will be a mix of affordable and market rate housing.

He said there were extensive surveys of current Westside residents and they have been an integral part of the change.

Part of the process was an Imagination Team of six artists who gave their "bold vision for a complete neighborhood with multiple housing options."

Ms. McCright said the project is getting underway with around $8 million on hand. An application will be made for federal funds from the Choice Neighborhoods program.

She said there are about 1,500 families in the Westside currently, including 1,015 families at four CHA-owned properties.

College Hill Courts, which she said opened in 1940, has 497 families. She said it "has been in decline for many years. It has no central heat and air and there are a host of ongoing maintenance problems." She said it would take $49 million to bring the buildings up to minimum standards, and that does not include buildings that need new roofs.

She said Gateway Tower was built in 1977, but it is plagued with water infiltration problems each time it rains. She said consultants offered solutions ranging in price from $2 million to $9.2 million, but there was no guarantee they would work. So the plan is to demolish Gateway Tower.

The CHA will continue to own the Westside property.

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod expressed concerns about ongoing maintenance and appearance problems, citing issues at The Villages in Alton Park, which got a large infusion of HOPE IV funds.

Councilwoman Jenny Hill also questioned what will be done "to make sure it says shiny and clean."

 


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