The Dunbar Apartments redevelopment took a symbolic step closer to completion Tuesday afternoon as various stakeholders in the project joined officials with the Johnson City Housing Authority for a groundbreaking ceremony.
The new 100-unit public housing development is being funded in part by tax credits from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. The project marks the first phase of the largest overhaul of public housing in Johnson City since the 1980s, JCHA Executive Director Richard McClain said.
THDA Executive Director Ralph M. Perrey spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony and praised the housing authority’s efforts to make drastic improvements to its housing stock.
“These deals are inherently complicated,” Perry said.
“This one was trying to get together with a lot of turbulence in the market last year during the tax-reform discussion, and everybody saw it through. We’re pleased to be able to award tax credits, and we’re grateful to Regions Bank for turning those tax credits into a local investment, and you’ve got other great partners involved.
“(Richard) has shown great creativity in working with us and a lot of other partners to redevelop affordable housing in Johnson City, and it’s going to make a great difference for people who live here, and also for the surrounding community.”
Crews with DP Construction recently began razing the old Dunbar Apartment buildings in preparation for construction of the new units.
The Dunbar Apartments development will cost an estimated $13 million to build and is being funded primarily through $11.33 million in Low-Income Housing Tax credits made available by THDA. Those credits were purchased by Region’s Bank. JCHA secured additional funding for construction through a $1.7 million loan from Bank of Tennessee.
The new Dunbar complex will replace the 30 1950s-era apartment units that are currently located on the property. A large portion of the 70-unit Fairview public housing development will also be replaced by the Dunbar Apartments project.
Once finished, the Dunbar development will include 16 one-bedroom apartments, 50 two-bedroom apartments and 34 three-bedroom apartments with increased energy efficiency. Each unit will have a laundry area with washer and dryer units, as well as improved accessibility features.
Dunbar will also feature a 5,000 square-foot community building that includes space for Head Start classes.
McClain said JCHA’s plans for the immediate future are to replace and remodel several hundred units located in and around Johnson City with larger, improved dwellings, adding that Dunbar is the first phase of a multiphase plan to demolish and rebuild 450 units and remodel another 302 units that JCHA manages. JCHA is currently responsible for overseeing seven developments in Washington County and another development in Carter County.
Once construction on Dunbar is completed, McClain said JCHA plans to pursue additional tax credit awards from THDA to replace or remodel units at Keystone Apartments, Memorial Park Apartments, Pinecrest Apartments, Carver Apartments and Parkway Apartments.
JCHA will be responsible for relocating residents of Dunbar and the other public housing developments will be replaced or remodeled.