MADISON — Two new low-income housing developments are transforming the landscape in Madison and Venice.
On Friday, civic leaders and guests were invited to tour the John W. Hamm III Apartments, one of the two apartments of the Gateway Apartment Development that is named for Madison Mayor and Madison County Housing Authority Executive Director John Hamm. The new 55-unit development is located at 1676 Market St., where the former Garesche Homes and Viola Jones Homes once stood and had fallen into disrepair in what had become a crime-ridden area.
In neighboring Venice, the 23-unit Tyrone Echols Apartments, named after Venice Mayor Tyrone Echols, is under construction at the intersection of Logan, Meredocia and Calhoun streets and is about two months away from completion. Together, the 78 units include 53 affordable housing tax credit units and 25 units with rental assistance -- nine public housing units and 16 section 8 units.
Both apartments feature one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom, single-story townhouses. They were developed in a partnership with the county hosing authority, both cities and local nonprofit organization Housing Solutions Inc.
In a ceremony at the housing development that bears his name, Hamm said that the apartments are a shining example of what can be accomplished when people come together with a vision for something better in the community.
"Mayor Echols and I are both honored that the individual communities bear our names," Hamm said. "But what gives us the greatest satisfaction is the demand that we're seeing for these new properties and the pride we see in the faces of the families who will call these communities home."
Echols said the former Lee Wright Homes low-income housing development in Venice that had stood where his city's new housing development is under construction once monopolized much of the city's police department's time. He commended the county housing authority and Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan for recognizing the need to redevelop that area. He also thanked Hamm for his aggressive action on the project.
"Thank God Alan Dunstan saw the goodness and connected with John Hamm," Echols said. "(Hamm) is a go-getter. There's no question about it. He gets things done."
Madison County Housing Authority Chairman James Gray said the new apartments promote and reinforce reinvestment in these communities and are the latest example of Hamm's success leading the housing authority.
"John Hamm has improved the housing in Madison County tremendously," Gray said. "We are proud of John and what he has brought to the table. He is an innovator."
U.S. Bank provided debt and equity for the development. The bank provided a construction loan and more than $14 million in a low-income housing tax credit equity investment through its St. Louis-based subsidiary, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. The project was made possible by $1.7 million in low-income tax credits, which generated more than $12 million in private funding.
John Schiffer, Director of Asset Management for Affordable Housing Tax Credit Investments at U.S. Bank, said this development "crosses two cities, impacts hundreds of lives and entire communities, and we believe it has the potential to be catalyst for additional revitalization in both Madison and Venice."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.