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New BTW housing complex to open soon, more than 700 applicants for 106 units

Looking back: Last building at Booker T. Washington comes tumbling down

The last remaining building in the Booker T. Washington public housing complex came tumbling down Wednesday at the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street, paving the way for possible commercial development at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Victory Drive.
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The last remaining building in the Booker T. Washington public housing complex came tumbling down Wednesday at the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street, paving the way for possible commercial development at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Victory Drive.

The new public housing complex springing up near Veterans Parkway and Victory Drive will soon be open for business, according to Columbus Public Housing Authority officials.

The development, called Columbus Commons, replaces the old Booker T. Washington public housing complex that stood at the intersection for decades.

Verona Campbell, the agency’s chief real estate officer, said the units on the western side of the property are slated to be completed in July and those on the eastern side by the end of August. She said the project is 75 percent complete, and the housing authority already has received more than 700 applications for the 106 units.

Some of those who expressed interest are non-public housing renters, Campbell said. Thirty-one of the units have been designated for public housing, 15 for market rent and 60 for project-based vouchers.

“I think people want to live in the center of the city where everything is convenient and there’s a lot of bus service,” she said, referring to the demand for the units. “We’ve had a bus stop in the middle of BTW for years and years and years, and the Greyhound bus station is just up the street.”

Campbell said the development also is close to a Family Dollar and Piggly Wiggly for grocery shopping, as well as the Government Center and local restaurants.

Columbus Commons also offers a lot of amenities, she said. The leasing office will include a fitness center, computer lab and a laundry room with windows so parents and grandparents can watch children on the playground. The site also will have two gazebos and an outdoor grilling area. The complex will have 21 one-bedroom, 63 two-bedroom and 22 three-bedroom units.

“It’s urban living, and it’s a brand new facility,” Campbell said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a place that’s completely energy efficient? All the appliances are new, the air conditioner is new, just everything is new.”

Officials opened waiting lists in April and began assigning units at the beginning of June. Campbell said former BTW residents and homeless people are given first and second preference, respectively.

“That said, everyone still has to have a criminal background check, credit check, as well as meet income and work requirements,” she explained. “... When we say preferences, we mean basically order of consideration.”

“You have to have income to live at this property, you have to be able to pay rent,” she added. “The work requirement is 25 hours per week.”

People with disabilities or health issues can list their benefits as income, she explained further.

Campbell said the housing authority has developed Columbus Commons in partnership with Columbia Residential, a company that specializes in quality affordable housing. The complex is designed to promote a safe neighborhood environment, from street lights to landscaping.

“We painstakingly tried to make 5th Avenue look just as nice as the city-scaped Veterans Parkway and 6th Avenue,” Campbell said. “That comes at a huge cost. But we wanted that for our central street in this neighborhood.”

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter

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