The Athens Housing Authority and Columbia Residential celebrated the completion of Columbia Brookside, a mixed-income multi-family community. Located at the site of the former Jack R. Wells public housing neighborhood, Columbia Brookside offers a combination of affordable and market-rate senior and family housing.
The dedication ceremony honored Corene V.S. Green and Jessie Walton Barnett, two individuals who made certain that all members of the Athens community had access to resources and services. Two streets in Columbia Brookside, Green Lane and Barnett Trail, are named for them. Plaques honoring the women and their work have been placed in the community.
The idea of Columbia Brookside began several years ago when the AHA began to consider the best possible way to renovate and revitalize the Jack R. Wells neighborhood. In the past, the AHA had used capital funds to renovate older public housing neighborhoods. The Jack R. Wells community was next on the list for renovation. Around the same time, the Athens-Clarke County government was studying the possibility of encouraging economic development along the same corridor the Jack R. Wells community was located along. The AHA and the ACC government began to explore some options.
In the meantime, the AHA conducted a number of meetings with Jack R. Wells residents, asking them about their ideas for their community and what they would like to see. With the encouragement of the residents, the AHA began to meet with developers and discuss possibilities. Residents were vital members in helping to select a developer, Columbia Residential of Atlanta, and for lending their voices in charrettes held to plan the new neighborhood. With the approval of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the AHA moved forward.
In 2013, Jack R. Wells residents were relocated around the Athens community. Some residents selected to move to other AHA neighborhoods. Others were provided with Housing Choice Vouchers by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. At that time, residents were told that they would all have the opportunity to come back to the new neighborhood if they desired. The Jack R.Wells neighborhood was demolished and the construction of Columbia Brookside began. The AHA and Columbia Residential were on track to create the first mixed-income multi-family housing in Athens.
The community was developed in three phases. The first phase, opened in 2015, is a senior mid-rise building that included amenities such as theater for movies and meetings and an exercise room. Phases two and three are family apartment homes. Phase two opened in 2016 with Phase three following this year. At this time, Columbia Brookside is almost completely occupied. The Athens-Clarke County has praised the development of Columbia Brookside and is encouraging the AHA to explore a variety of affordable housing options.