In an unexpected twist, Atlanta Housing (AH) will push the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Bowen Homes public housing site to the back burner “until a later date,” the agency’s CEO, Eugene Jones, told Atlanta Civic Circle on Wednesday.
“Hopefully before the end of the year,” he added.
Asked why AH was delaying the project — which would bring mixed-income residences, commercial development, and parkland to 74 Westside acres that have sat vacant for nearly 13 years — Jones said he could not yet disclose why.
“We just decided we were going to table it and look at it in a different way,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the mayor’s input in it, too.”
The AH board of commissioners was expected to consider potential master developers for the site last week, but a meeting called to assess firms’ proposals was derailed after Mayor Andre Dickens announced that the housing authority and developer Integral Group were nearing a settlement agreement to end an unrelated, years-long lawsuit.
That knocked the Bowen Homes discussion off the Feb. 3 meeting’s agenda to make way for executive-level legal deliberation. But Jones said AH’s unexpected decision to hold off on choosing a master developer for Bowen Homes “has nothing to do with the lawsuit.”
Delaying the property’s redevelopment means AH won’t apply for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant worth up to $50 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund construction there and spur the revitalization of neighboring Westside communities, because the deadline is Feb. 15.
AH intends to move forward with Bowen Homes’ redevelopment “whether we receive the $50 million grant or not,” AH’s vice president of real estate development, Trish O’Connell, said during a January board meeting.
Still, Jones said AH can always apply for the grant again next year, giving officials time to fine-tune redevelopment plans. “We’re going to make sure it’s perfect,” he said.
Dickens’ office did not respond to requests for comment. This story will be updated as information is provided.