City of Albany considers historic housing project near medical training development

Nov. 21—ALBANY — A proposal for a possible housing development in a historic district near Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital could be a reversal of back to the future into forward to the past.

One idea that has caught the attention of Ward IV Albany City Commissioner Chad Warbington is a handful of townhouses designed to look like they were built at the time of other historic structures in the area.

The area is undergoing a spurt of activity, anchored by the hospital's medical training facility coming to the site of the former Albany High and Middle School campus. That building is gone, but part of the building was preserved and will be incorporated into the Living and Learning Center that will train nurses and other health professionals.

Across Third Avenue will be the parking lot for the residential instructional facility, and a short distance away are four lots that the city has in mind.

Two of the lots are owned by the hospital, and two are delinquent in taxes with liens attached the city will seek to acquire.

"This has been an economically depressed area," Warbington said.

"People have been abandoning properties. Right next to the Living and Learning Center, there's a good number of tax-delinquent properties, (and) two have city liens, right next to the two Phoebe owns. This could be a $2 million to $3 million project."

Once the two properties are secured, Warbington said, the plan is to confer with various groups, including the Albany-Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission, which initially blocked the demolition of the former school building along with two houses and a 1960s-era medical building.

"My first idea was to look at townhouses with a historic look, like you see in Savannah," Warbington said. "It is possible to build a new structure with a 1940s, 1950s look. That would be the goal, but yet have an energy-efficient floor plan, have the architectural appearance of the historic area."

Eventually, the idea is to seek developers looking to take on such a project.

The size of the combined properties would be sufficient for about six townhouses in the same area where the other development is taking place.

"We're just trying to have a project that is marketable and is attractive," Warbington said.

Phoebe has requested closing Third Avenue in the block adjacent to the Living and Learning Center, which will have parking for the facility across that street.

A public hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday prior to a vote by the commission on that request.

In addition to the city's efforts, Dougherty County officials are looking into having a residential complex developed on land at the former Georgia National Guard site, where tennis and pickleball facilities also are planned.