Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens and other local leaders gathered for the ribbon-cutting and opening of James Allen Jr. Place, a newly refurbished 129-unit affordable housing complex for the city's senior and disabled populations. Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Atlanta City Councilwoman Andrea Boone and representatives from various local housing organizations came together Monday afternoon to celebrate the reopening of a newly renovated affordable housing complex located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

James Allen Jr. Place, originally known as the Hightower Manor Apartments, was remodeled by the Atlanta-based Columbia Residential, a real estate development and management company that specializes in delivering affordable multifamily housing options to seniors and middle- and low-income families.

The building is named after the late James Allen, Jr., a beloved and respected member of the community and a former employee and board commissioner at Atlanta Housing for more than 40 years.

“Mr. Allen passed away before he could see the beautiful results we have here today,” said Carmen Chubb, president of Columbia Residential, in opening remarks. “But this community is named in his honor to recognize his lasting impact and his work.”

The refurbished James Allen Jr. Place consists of 129 one-bedroom apartment units designed to accommodate seniors aged 55 and older, as well as disabled tenants with no age restrictions.

The renovation added a movie theater, package room and arts and crafts room to the property’s list of existing amenities, which include an updated community room, laundry room, computer room and fitness center. Developers also added a primary health care clinic to the complex’s lower level, which will exclusively serve the residents of the building. Preventive care provider Matter Health will staff and operate the clinic.

The preservation of the James Allen Jr. Place community brings the mayor another 129 units closer to his goal for affordable housing in the city, which is to build or preserve a total of 20,000 affordable housing units within a span of eight years.

Mayor Dickens said that construction projects like James Allen Jr. Place are made possible through collaborations between city leadership and local organizations willing to invest in the future of Atlanta’s housing.

“No government can solve housing on its own,” Dickens said. “This is indeed a group project and it requires us to have significant partnerships and strong partners. And in Atlanta, we have mastered that part of it to be able to do things together.”

Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs each allocated funding for the redevelopment, which cost approximately $36 million altogether. Wells Fargo handled the equity and financing for construction.

“Thanks to the efforts and commitment of multiple organizations, this nearly 40-year-old building has undergone massive renovation so that 129 units can serve as home,” said Boone, who represents the city’s tenth district. “Home is where memories are made. Home is where you rest. Home is special.”

James Allen Jr. Place is currently accepting new tenants, prioritizing former residents of Hightower Manor who were relocated to renovate the property. Chubb said that 31 residents have already moved into the community and that James Allen Jr. Place is expected to reach full capacity by the end of this year.