A titan in the Sisyphean crusade for housing affordability, Noel Khalil passed away on Monday at 70 years old.
One of metro Atlanta’s pioneers of mixed-income and affordable housing, Khalil built and preserved thousands of units across the region and, ultimately, set a certain standard for accessible residential development in Atlanta and beyond.
“His vision and persona were the driving force behind the creation of Columbia Residential and Columbia Ventures and will continue to be our guide and inspiration for carrying the work of our companies forward,” according to Jim Grauley, president and chief operating officer of Columbia Residential.
Khalil’s modus operandi, Grauley said, was “building cathedrals for God’s children,” a mission that “will extend through the more than 350 associates of our combined companies to animate and continue the great work he started.”
Khalil’s compassion and generosity will also be severely missed, Grauley added. “There are countless stories being recounted of how Noel gave opportunity, inspired careers, or helped in the most personal and impactful ways in so many lives he touched.”
Once an employee with H.J. Russell & Co., Khalil, in 1991, founded Affordable Housing Partnership (which later became Columbia Residential).
Columbia Residential’s president of property management Aaron Swain said Khalil’s endeavors helped change how people see affordable housing. “He built a large amount of affordable and market rate apartments in Atlanta and elsewhere to a high quality standard,” he said. “His philanthropy and care for others are equal parts of his legacy.”
Khalil’s major community investments brought 700 mixed-income homes to five different properties in the West Highlands, nearly 900 mixed-income homes spanning six communities in Mechanicsville, and almost 800 mixed-income residences among three communities in East Lake.
His legacy, friends and colleagues said, will continue to benefit housing affordability efforts in metro Atlanta for decades to come.