If plans go as intended, hundreds of what are described as affordable housing developments will be built in the Golden Isles in coming years.
Among them are 56 housing units at the Perry school site, 64 units at the old Golden Isles Inn site, 142 units to a development called Grace Crossing, as well as plans by local businessmen to build lofts, condominiums and apartments on the second floor of commercial buildings in downtown Brunswick.
Places like Port City Lofts, currently under construction on the second floor of the Leotis Building at the intersection of Bay and Gloucester streets downtown, will charge rents ranging from $750 a month for a studio apartment to $1,300 to $1,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
The homes planned for construction at Grace Crossing will sell from the mid to upper $200,000s to the mid $300,000s.
Travis Stegall, the city’s economic and community development director, said there are more than 200 affordable housing units under construction at Brunswick Commons and the Perry school sites.
Other projects, such as the Golden Isles Inn on U.S. 17 and Days Inn on Gloucester St., aren’t counted yet because they are still in the planning stages and haven’t been permitted yet.
Stegall said some of the affordable housing units are income based, meaning there is a cap on the maximum amount someone can earn each year to qualify. But they aren’t government subsidized.
“There is a distinct difference between affordable housing and housing affordability,” he said.
Another project at the old Days Inn site on Gloucester Street in downtown Brunswick is being done by Port City Partners, a local real estate development company. Stegall said that project, a proposed apartment complex with as many as 170 units, is more of a market rate project. Though developers say the apartments will be affordable, they haven’t determined the rent yet.
The need for affordable housing is there and Stegall believes people will move into one of the new developments, given the opportunity.
“We have a very poor housing stock,” he said.
As for the existing city residents, Stegall said it’s important they are educated about housing values so they aren’t taken advantage of if someone makes an offer to buy their home.
“We don’t want people to sell homes under valued,” he said.
Another way to protect existing residents from gentrification and rising housing values would be to grant homestead exemptions that would protect them from rising property taxes.
“We want to make sure residents are educated on property values,” he said.
The reassuring news is affordable housing is a serious consideration among elected officials.
“Our commissioners are thinking about it,” he said. “The best thing about our city is we have elected officials who care.”