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Allen Wilson Revitalization

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Allen Wilson Terrace was a 200-unit public housing development originally built and occupied in 1941 on 7.68 acres in downtown Decatur.  Due to the serious obsolescence of the utility systems, lack of modern housing option, and other factors, DHA determined that something needed to be done.  Despite its worsening physical condition, Allen Wilson Terrace enjoyed an exceptional location near downtown Decatur, Georgia with immediate access to public transportation and proximity to shopping, restaurants and churches, as well as parks, recreation, and cultural facilities.  The site is within two (2) blocks of Decatur's thriving downtown government, business, and retail district, which includes the Decatur MARTA Rail Station.  Extensive employment opportunities and exist within a two-mile radius of the site. 

After extensive public consultation with the residents of Allen Wilson and the community, a determination was made to undertake a revitalization effort.  The master plan called for the demolition of all existing structures and the construction of 191 mixed-finance rental units, of which 100% will be Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)/Public Housing, on 4.837 acres of the existing site in a three-phase affordable housing revitalization effort.  A fourth phase would be developed on the remaining 2.88 acres along West Trinity Place that originally planned to include market rate ownership or rental units with a smaller affordable component. 

Allen Wilson Phase 1

DHA successfully completed the $28.3 million revitalization effort that met these goals; 1) Retain 191 affordable housing units, 2) Make the redevelopment seamless and reduce the disruption to the residents, 3) Provide housing for DHA's growing senior population, and 4) Develop the community with energy efficiency, including EarthCraft Multifamily and Communities designations. 

DHA, acting through its instrumentality, Preserving Affordable Housing, Inc. was the developer, and DHA acted as property manager for the revitalization of Allen Wilson Terrace.  The project Architect was Stewart Aiken of HADP, and the project Contractors were Catamount for Phase I and NorSouth for Oliver House and Phase III. 


Allen Wilson Phase I - The first phase of redevelopment began with the demolition of seven (7) existing buildings containing a total of 64 units.  In order to minimize the impact on residents, demolition and construction have been planned in three phases over 4 years.  Prior to the demolition in the first phase, the current residents were accommodated either in other available and suitable DHA apartments or provided with Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.  

The new construction of Allen Wilson Phase I included 40 LIHTC/ACC units in two buildings with 3-story "English Flat"" style row houses.  Each building included four 1-BR/1-BA and four 3-BR/2-BA flats on the ground floor.  Above, each building is configured in 2-story townhouse style units (eight 2-BR/1.5-BA, four 3-BR/2.5-BA).  All ground floor units are visitable; two are accessible; and one is equipped for the vision- or hearing-impaired.  All 40 units were occupied by March 31, 2011, within a 30-day timeframe. 

Oliver House Exterior of building

Allen Wilson Phase II - Oliver House - The revitalization of Allen Wilson continued with the second phase, known as Oliver House, that consists of eighty (80) LIHTC/public housing units designed for seniors.  Forty additional families were relocated and then the units were demolished to make way for this phase of development.  The project consists of one 4-story "Williamsburg Style" building with seventy- two (72) one-bedroom and eight (8) two-bedroom apartments designated for the elderly.  The building is equipped with two elevators.  A portion of the first floor of the building also houses the new management / rental offices and maintenance facilities for the entire Allen Wilson property.  According to LIHTC requirements, costs were prorated for the phase.

The 82,419 SF four-story building was built under the EarthCraft House Multifamily™ program for sustainability and energy efficiency.  The building includes a number of state-of-the-art energy and water conservation features that exceed the EarthCraft minimum standard.  The Earthcraft energy features include a 50 kWh photovoltaic (PV) solar power generation system; geo-thermal heating and cooling systems in the common areas coupled with geo-thermal water heating for the entire building; Huber Zip weather resistant barrier; rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation; and spray foam insulation in all walls and attic spaces.

Building features include a 2-story entrance lobby with a reception counter and lounge, multipurpose community room, large kitchen/pantry, conference room, training center, meeting room, second floor roof garden, fitness center, card room, computer room, sun/media room and library.  All entrances are covered and camera monitored.  The units include complete kitchens with Energy Star refrigerators and dishwashers, electric ranges and microwave ovens, washer/dryer hookups and individual high-efficiency HVAC units.  All units are visitable; five units are accessible; and two units are equipped for the visual- or hearing-impaired.  Every bathroom is equipped with grab bars.

The central courtyard of the U-shaped building is landscaped and features a covered porch/patio seating area, resident gardens, and privacy fencing.  Additionally, approximately 0.72 acres of landscaped "Green Space" with walkways was built in this phase.  The remaining sections of the underground storm water detention facility and other storm water improvements were also built during Phase 2.  Perpetual cross easements provide for the shared usage and upkeep of the facility.  Oliver House was completed on August 30, 2012, and all 80 units were occupied in less than 30 days. 

Allen Wilson Phase III - Allen Wilson Phase III consists of seven (7) buildings containing seventy-one (71) one, two, and three-bedroom family apartments.  Two (2) buildings are garden style similar to the Allen Wilson Phase 1 buildings completed in March 2011, while the remaining five (5) buildings are "cluster home" style.  Phase III includes an expansion to the playground, a new laundry facility, tot lot play area, covered gathering area, and enclosed garden area.

Residents were relocated into other units on site to make possible the completion of these units.  The financial closing was in February 2013, and construction began in late February 2013.  Phase III achieved Substantial Completion on December 31, 2013, and full occupancy was achieved in less than 30 days.  Residents came from three sources.  Families on-site in the older Allen Wilson Terrace units were moved into the new units.  DHA invited all families who had been relocated off-site as a part of the Phase I development to return the community.  Finally, DHA was able to select some families from its waiting list of low income families.  Demolition of the last remaining units of the old Allen Wilson Terrace was completed in May 2014.


Phase I $  5,814,985 40 Units of Family Housing
Phase II (Oliver House) $ 12,383,737 80 Units of Senior Housing
Phase III $ 10,144,293 71 Units of Family Housing
Total Development Cost $ 28,343,015 191 Units Total


Allen Wilson Phase IV - The final phase of revitalization for the Allen Wilson community was planned to be a market-based housing component of 120 to 150 units constructed on approximately 2.88 acres of land along West Trinity Place in Decatur, Georgia.  This final phase of development would complement the previous three phases of affordable housing, comprised of family and elderly housing, by bringing a market-based component to the site and completing the DHA master planned community. 

During the completion of the Allen Wilson Revitalization, DHA began consultations with the City Schools of Decatur (CSD) to determine the possibility of additional access for DHA's families to early childhood education at the College Heights facility.  During discussions in the Early Childhood Education Taskforce meetings, DHA and CSD realized the mutual benefits of this Allen Wilson site.  CSD needed additional land for educational facilities, including a larger early childhood education facility.  DHA needed children to benefit from early childhood education.  DHA agreed to sell the land to CSD with the condition that could be used for an education facility, hopefully an early childhood education facility so that the 400 low to moderate income families within a ¼ mile could walk to this new service.  Planning is still underway for this opportunity. 

Allen Wilson Site Plan


In October 2012, Oliver House at Allen Wilson was named Multifamily Project of the Year by Southface and the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association at the EarthCraft Celebration of Excellence held at the Southface Eco Office in Atlanta.  EarthCraft, the Southeast's premier green building program, promotes energy efficient, healthy, comfortable, and durable new construction and renovation.  The Decatur Housing Authority and NorSouth Construction were honored for leadership and excellence in green building design and construction for Oliver House. 

In November 2013, Oliver House at Allen Wilson was named the Atlanta Regional Commission's (ARC) 2013 Development of Excellence.  ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said as he presented the award, "We are pleased to recognize developments and places that offer new options for living or add to our general quality of life.  These projects and their success show us that metro Atlantans want to create a better region today and for the residents of the future." 

In October 2014, the overall Allen Wilson Revitalization was selected as the 2014 EarthCraft Community of the Year.  The project was selected because of the great work that DHA does as an organization, the quality of the project, and the end result which is pushing the mission of sustainable construction forward in the Southeast.