Place residence

Mobile Housing Authority plans to demolish James Place and Taylor Plaza

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Mobile Housing Authority said residents living in the Thomas James Place and RV Taylor Plaza developments will have two options for moving when the Housing Authority demolishes 739 buildings and 1,246 units. Residents can move to one of MHA’s other developments or get a voucher to help pay for a new place to live.

The MHA said in a press release that maintaining and rehabilitating these older buildings, many of which are already uninhabitable, would be too expensive. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Special Enforcement Center accepted MHA’s assessment of the properties and approved the demolition.

“Both developments have hundreds of vacant and uninhabitable units,” according to the MHA press release. “No reasonable modification program is cost-effective to bring them back to useful life. The capital expenditure exceeds the obsolescence threshold established by HUD.

Conditions detailed in the MHA press release are austere, including collapsed bathroom floors, termite damage and daily sewer backups.

“There is no central air in half the units,” according to MHA. “In these units, residents can purchase window units that often block exits from bedrooms. When not installed properly, window units rot window sills and walls due to moisture.

All of these issues have led to “a negative stigma associated with ownership,” according to the MHA. Thanks to vandalism in the mix and the result is “significant vacancies in properties”.

When you do the math, moving people out of James Place and Taylor Plaza is the most cost effective solution.

How much does all this cost?

The MHA provided cost estimates for the demolition and relocation of residents. To illustrate why they think this is the best plan, MHA also estimated how much it would cost to rehabilitate the properties.

MHA said it would cost $116,610,000 to rehabilitate Thomas James Place. Demolition will cost this property $5,170,000. The MHA estimated it would cost $66,969,000 to rehabilitate the RV Taylor Plaza, but only $3,206,440 to demolish it.

There are also other savings. MHA had both properties appraised. James Place’s approximately 240 acres are worth $19,815,000. The nearly 93-acre Taylor Plaza is worth $8,177,000. Because there is no debt on the properties, any money made from the sale of the land can go “to modernize social housing”, according to the statement.

When you factor in the cost of relocating residents, which the MHA says is $1,593,236, the cost-benefit analysis is clear, according to the MHA: redeveloping the properties, something it has been working on since 2016, according to the press release.

Next steps:

Change takes time. Now that HUD has approved the demolition, MHA will hold three Zoom briefings on April 20. MHA will provide an update to the Resident Advisory Council at 10 a.m. and will offer two briefings to affected residents, noon to 6 p.m.

Tenants who do not wish to move to other MHA properties may obtain Tenant Protection Vouchers. These vouchers are used to help residents pay for new accommodation.