As a part of new program, a local group dedicated to flipping historic-but-blighted houses in the city is bringing the same passion to providing new homes.
Restore Mobile, Inc. recently finished three new affordable homes at 1051, 1053 and 1055 Texas St. in the Oakleigh Garden District and is waiting to sell the homes to families who make at or below 80 percent of the area’s average median income (AMI). For a family of four, that equals roughly $43,100.
The homes were built on property purchased from the Order of Incas society for $30,000, Mobile Historic Development Commission Director Devereaux Bemis said. Federal funds totaling close to $150,000 per house made it possible for the group to build the three-bedroom, two-bath homes and sell them for $88,500 each, Bemis said.
Initially, Restore Mobile looked at only restoring individual historic homes for resale, but that philosophy took a turn toward restoring whole neighborhoods, board member Jarrod White explained. After several years of focusing its energy in the Old Shell Road area, east of Ann Street, the group has moved its efforts to an eight-to-10-block radius in the south part of the Oakleigh Garden District.
“We realized homes were part of neighborhoods and we needed to revitalize neighborhoods,” White said.
The group also owns three houses on George Street, property on Elmira Street and a historic home at 460 Chatham St., with plans to build on or restore all of it.
The home at 460 Chatham is actually two historic homes joined together to make one, Bemis said. The house on the front of the property was built in 1870 and the house on the back of the property was built in 1840. The plan, Bemis said, is to move the older house across the street to 1008 Texas St. and restore and sell both, with help from federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds.
The house at 1008 Texas St. will be a one-bedroom, two-bath house, while 460 Chatham St. will be a two-bedroom, two-bath home. The homes will be available to individuals or families living on either 50 percent or 120 percent of AMI.
Two of the homes on George Street will be subject to Neighborhood Stabilization funds. They will be available to folks living on 50 to 120 percent AMI. The third home will be sold at 80 percent AMI.
Focusing its revitalization efforts on small areas has been successful for the group, White said. The group chose Midtown and specifically the Oakleigh neighborhood for its second batch of projects because it is trendy and where young professionals want to move, board member and Realtor Melanie Bunting Seymour said.
The neighborhood is making a comeback after suffering for years after the closure of Brookley Air Force Base, Bemis said.
“Oakleigh is up-and-coming,” he said. “What we’re hoping is to build on what’s already happening.”
Construction on the Texas Street homes was finished in July, Construction Committee Chairman Mac Lewis said.
“They were built pretty much at the same time,” Lewis said. “The idea was to get them all done in the same timeframe.”
All three homes have security systems, modern appliances and were built with energy efficiency in place, Bemis said. Each of the homes is roughly 1,500-square-feet.
The group held an open house for the homes and has had some interest, Seymour said. The challenge, according to Bemis, is finding an interested family able to qualify for a home loan.
A portion of the money from each home that sells will go back to HUD, while the remaining funds will be into Restore Mobile’s next project.
The group will remain in Oakleigh at least until its current projects are completed, Bemis said. At that point, the group will move into another neighborhood and continue the work.
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