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Gainesville’s Midtown Villages Undergo Dramatic Sustainability Upgrade

July 14, 2021 GMT
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Three Phases of Testing Central to Developments' Energy SavingsGAINESVILLE, GA / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2021 / Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) and Collaborative Housing Solutions have completed Midtown Villages, a $25 million redevelopment ...
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Three Phases of Testing Central to Developments' Energy SavingsGAINESVILLE, GA / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2021 / Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) and Collaborative Housing Solutions have completed Midtown Villages, a $25 million redevelopment ...

Three Phases of Testing Central to Developments’ Energy Savings

GAINESVILLE, GA / ACCESSWIRE / July 14, 2021 / Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) and Collaborative Housing Solutions have completed Midtown Villages, a $25 million redevelopment comprised of 200 units in 54 buildings on 6 properties, that received Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). The property is managed by Columbia Residential.

Midtown Villages at Melrose in Gainesville, Georgia. Redeveloped by Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) and Collaborative Housing Solutions.

SK Collaborative, a green building consulting firm based in Decatur, GA, just wrapped up two years of inspections and performance testing, leading to the development’s recent certification under the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

“This is one of the most complicated developments I’ve ever done in my life,” said Richelle Patton, Collaborative Housing Solutions Founder. “It is six different sites, that are all originally public housing sites. We’re the first project in Georgia to combine National Housing Trust Fund dollars (NHTF) and LIHTCs.” The NHTF is a federal program funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered here through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

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The buildings are made of CMU (concrete masonry unit) with some dating back to 1951. Patton said the $25 million renovation updated everything from the electric service and flooring to windows and roofs. “We’re trying to change the face of what people may think public housing looks like, by rebranding and showing how beneficial and attractive affordable housing can be for communities,” said Patton.

Midtown Villages kitchen - before (left) and after (right) renovation.

Keeping Cool and Comfortable

But what may be the most noticeable improvement, especially because of Georgia’s hot summers, is air conditioning. Brand new HVAC was added to the buildings at a cost of $2.7 million or $13,500 per unit. “Prior to our renovation, our residents did not have central air conditioning,” said Beth Brown, GHA Executive Director. “So this is huge for them! Even with the central heating and air systems, they have seen a reduction in utility costs.”

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What’s made that possible is a focus on duct and air sealing. The DCA’s Qualified Allocation Plan requires a 20 percent reduction in duct and envelope leakage. “We measure the duct leakage and the envelope leakage before the renovation even starts, then we measure at the final inspection to verify the improvements,” said Joe Baumann, SK Collaborative Multifamily Program Manager. Because DCA also requires green building certification, the SK Collaborative team also performed inspections both during and following construction. “Those mid-construction inspections are worth their weight in gold because we have an opportunity to give them feedback. If any issues are identified, it’s much easier to address them mid-construction rather than waiting until after the final inspection.”

Doing the inspections, especially with the onset of COVID-19, was difficult because residents had to be moved out - then back into their homes. “It was a logistical nightmare, especially with 54 buildings. Working with the team, we finally made it happen last week,” said Baumann.

Midtown Villages Community Building. Sculpture by local artist Gregory Johnson.

Sustaining a Team Approach

“I can’t say enough of the stick-with-it-ness, the determination, the commitment of everyone on the development and property management teams,” said Patton. “There were some difficult days, but as a team, we all worked together.”

In addition to renovating the residential units, Midtown Villages built new maintenance and community buildings - both on which Patton said they are in the process of installing solar panels. The community center is called the Melrose Art and Activity Center (the ‘MAC’) and is displaying art from local and national artists. There are plans for art classes for younger and older residents post-COVID, as well as an oral history project for former and existing residents.

“We’re collaborating with the surrounding community in Vision 2030 ( https://www.vision2030.org ), a project of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce which spearheads initiatives to improve the quality of life in the area, including engaging residents with public art in the Gainesville and Hall County communities,” said Patton. “Our goal for Midtown Villages was to preserve - yet upgrade what we have, to honor the community spirit established by the residents over the years, to try to be good neighbors, and to show that we can be a positive contribution to the larger Gainesville community.”

Midtown Villages at Summit Street.

About Gainesville Housing Authority

Gainesville Housing Authority (GHA) is an advocate and provider for affordable housing for Gainesville families. Working with the City of Gainesville, U.S. Department of HUD, and other organizations, we provide life resources and opportunities not only to our residents, but to the entire community.

About Collaborative Housing Solutions

With 26 years of experience as an owner, developer, and consultant, Collaborative Housing Solutions bridges the public and private sectors to develop high-quality affordable rental housing which promotes diversity, equity, and community-building. It creates housing developments with the intent of not only positively impacting the built environment, but people’s lives as well. For more information, visit www.collaborativehousingsolutions.com.

About SK Collaborative

SK Collaborative applies proven green building techniques to real-life situations. We work with developers, builders, remodelers, contractors, and architects to identify cost-effective techniques that can help earn financial incentives such as tax credits, utility rebates and financing discount programs. Our services range from consulting, design reviews and charrettes to envelope sealing inspections, testing, training, and building certification under LEED, EarthCraft, National Green Building Standard, ENERGY STAR, Enterprise Green Communities, FitWel, and Green Globes. We also offer building energy audits, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) compliance testing, and building enclosure consulting. SK Collaborative is your one stop resource in Making Buildings Better.

Contact:

Sarah Kelty, Marketing Coordinator

SK Collaborative

skelty@skcollaborative.com

(404) 480-4600 x116

SOURCE: SK Collaborative

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