Interest in city piqued since building began

Granite Crossing general superintendent Mike Giemont, left, discusses plans with two crew members on June 2.

As the 75-unit Granite Crossing Apartments complex rises from the ground in downtown Lithonia, interest is building in the project that is transforming the look of the tiny city.

Already, the $10 million affordable housing project has a waiting list of 169 applicants even though it cannot begin to accept applications until 120 days from completion.

Mayor Deborah Jackson said prospective residents are sharing in the excitement by lining up to wait for the opportunity to apply for the one-, two- and three-bedroom rent-controlled apartment units scheduled for completion in December.

Deborah Jackson

Deborah Jackson

“The project is changing not only the look of the downtown area but also its potential,” Jackson said June 5. “It is a visible demonstration that something positive is happening in the city.” 

Granite Crossing, which is being built on city-owned property, is a public-private partnership between the city of Lithonia and Wendover Housing Partners LLC. Both broke ground on the construction last November ­– 13 years after the project was first visualized.

Jackson said that back in 2003 when the community talked about some of the changes it wanted to see in the city, residents and city leaders had no idea it would take this long for something to happen.  

“But with perseverance and determination, it has finally come to fruition,” she said. “The project is scheduled to be completed with families moving in by Christmas this year.” 

This week, the site was a bevy of activity with crews framing the third floor of the building and grading the land for the installation of roads and driveways.

Gary Brink, Wendover Housing Partners construction manager, said recent heavy rains set construction back about two weeks but they are still on target for the December opening.

“I am supposed to be finished by Dec. 15,” Brink said Monday.

Until then, people who express interest in renting the apartments are put on a waiting list, but they will be referred to the online application process when it is ready in September.

To qualify for the units, applicants will undergo a background and credit check. Eligible applicants must meet federal income guidelines and their annual rent cannot exceed 30 percent of their household incomes. Individuals can make $23,000, and a family of six, up to $47,520.

Based on 2015 federal income guidelines, monthly rents will range from about $498 for individuals to $800 for a family of six. Any adjustment in the guidelines will be made before actual rents are released next year.

To make way for Granite Crossing, which faces Max Cleland Boulevard, the city demolished its old 80,000-square-foot former city hall building that adjoined the Lithonia Plaza.

Residents had hoped for a mixed-use development in the heart of the downtown, and Jackson says that even though Granite Crossing only has a residential component, the city will still have a mixed-use commercial area since there are businesses on Main Street as well as in the remaining portion of the Lithonia Plaza.

The best part is that apartment construction has helped spark what Jackson calls “new interest in Lithonia.”

“It has attracted about five new businesses to Main Street and the existing businesses have experienced increased foot traffic,” she said.

Granite Crossing is being built with federal housing tax credits from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. In November 2015, it was one of 33 projects statewide awarded $25.8 million in housing tax credits to construct or rehabilitate affordable rental housing properties for working families, seniors and people with disabilities.

Granite Crossing is the newest construction in the city since the 80-unit Terraces at Parkview apartments were built in 2009. Its one-bedroom/one-bathroom units will be 760 square feet. Two-bedroom/two-bathroom units will be 1,069 square feet, and three-bedroom/two-bathroom units, 1,153-square-feet.

The units will feature walk-in closets, washers and dryers, and kitchens with islands. Community amenities include a clubhouse with a fitness area, an activity room for an after-school program, a computer room, outdoor grill and a splash pool.

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Interest in city piqued since building began