Augusta leaders unveil plans for The Lenox affordable apartments

Officials held a news conference Monday morning to launch the project.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 10:58 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta residents who earn up to 80% of the area’s median income will soon have access to a new housing option called The Lenox to be built on Laney Walker Boulevard.

The Lenox is named after the former Lenox Theater, a beloved 1921 historic venue that was damaged by fire and eventually torn down in the late 1970s.

Officials held a news conference Monday morning to launch the project.


The Lenox is made possible due to collaboration between the city of Augusta, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, an Athens-based nonprofit Parallel Housing Inc., and an affordable housing private developer Woda Cooper Cos. Inc.

Primary funding for the $16 million property will be provided through an allocation of federal and state low-income housing tax credits combined with private activity bonds allocated by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The city provided a $640,000 HOME loan to the project and the Augusta Georgia Land Bank Authority is providing a long-term lease at nominal value. The Augusta Housing Authority has issued a bond inducement resolution as well as a commitment letter to provide 20 project-based vouchers. United Bank is providing a community housing soft loan of $440,000.

About The Lenox

The Lenox, developed by Parallel Housing and Woda Cooper, will include a new four-story building with an elevator.

It will have 64 units, with 25 one-bedroom and 39 two-bedroom apartments, including several units with features for those with disabilities, plus amenities such as a rooftop terrace and fitness center.

A multipurpose community room with a kitchenette will provide a space for resident social gatherings. There will be an onsite management/leasing office, laundry facility, computer room and fitness center. Outdoor amenities include the rooftop terrace offering views of historic downtown Augusta.

Woda Cooper affiliate Woda Construction will be the general contractor, and affiliate Woda Management & Real Estate will manage the property once it is built. For more information about The Lenox, email or call 614-396-3200.

The Lenox will help address the city‘s significant need for affordable housing and positively transform a vacant property, city officials said.

It is expected to catapult economic development through new commercial space, new neighborhood business growth, related jobs, and commerce generated from an increased number of residents living in the neighborhood.

Green building practices and materials will result in a highly energy-efficient building and low monthly utility consumption for residents.

This is going to give some much-needed options for Richmond County residents.

“Not having the right type of housing, advice, a certain lifestyle that I don’t want to be a part of,” said Jo-Anne Saunders, an area resident.

Saunders has lived here for 30 years. While time has passed just as fast as the cars on Laney Walker, the lack of affordable housing hasn’t.

Augusta Commission member Jordan Johnson said: “Augusta has about a 24 to 25% poverty rate. We have to deliver on affordable housing.”

The options are slim for the more than 5,000 on the public housing list and 1,033 waiting for Section 8.

Hawthorne Welcher Jr. is the director of housing and community development. He said, “The main one that comes to not only this area but all around, of course, is going to be public housing. It’s going to be Section 8.”

Johnson said: “Certainly, you can find them in south Augusta.”

But in downtown, Saunders says she hasn’t seen any affordable housing. Lenox will serve people in the area making 80 percent of the median income.

Johnson said: “For the county itself is around 40 grand. But when you move into a certain size of our city, that decreases, and I know in this district, it’s somewhat lower than that. It’s our responsibility to make sure that people have somewhere safe and affordable to live. That’s no one else’s responsibility but ours.”

A proposed four-story building, Watson Pointe, for low-income residents ages 62 and older was recommended for full approval by the Augusta Commission.

“I plan to be here for a long time. And I want to see that grow. I want my grandchildren to have a place to come home to. I want a place to call home. I want people to be able to come to Augusta and not see a sore sight, not see an eye sore on Laney Walker,” said Saunders.

What they’re saying

Mayor Garnett Johnson: “Creating affordable housing for Augusta Richmond County is one of my top priorities. The Lenox addresses this need and will contribute to the continued revitalization of the downtown corridor. I’m proud of the organizations and departments that contributed to this project and worked together to move our community forward and to make Augusta a better place to live for all of its citizens” said

Augusta Housing and Community Development Director Hawthorne Welcher: “It is because of The Lenox that Main Street development takes on a new meaning at the right moment for the community we serve,” Welcher noted. “We will remain true to our revitalization efforts, we will work to continue affordable housing development, and we will surely work to use this development as an economic instrument and stimulant for community gain. The rebirth of Laney Walker Blvd is upon us and shall be cherished and felt forever.”

Denis Blackburne, senior vice president of Woda Cooper: “The Lenox will provide affordable housing greatly needed for Augusta’s workforce and help further the city’s historic revitalization on a main thoroughfare. Its location is convenient for accessing shopping, professional services, and many jobs in the immediate area. The new commercial space will offer area business owners a new facility in a high-impact location.”

Parallel Housing’s Gregg Bayard: “We will be developing this property to LEED for Homes standards aiming to achieve a Gold Certification. This will greatly benefit the residents through reduced energy consumption and better indoor air quality.”