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The Commons at Imperial Hotel—Award Winning Historic Redevelopment for Special Needs Tenants
By: Clara Trejos





Clara Trejos is the VP Tax Credit Operations and the  Project Manager The Commons at Imperial Hotel, Columbia Residential



An Atlanta landmark, the Imperial Hotel stands at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard. Once a trouble property and surrounded by modern hotels it would have been the ideal location to convert it into luxury apartments or condos.  However, a unique partnership of public entities, housing providers, and institutions interested in preserving the Imperial renovated and it as affordable permanent supportive housing for individuals with special needs.  Columbia Residential and National Church Residences were selected by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the City of Atlanta in 2011 to negotiate the purchase of and redevelopment of the Imperial, which was facing imminent foreclosure. The state of Georgia is striving to increase in the number of permanent supportive housing units and services for special-needs tenants. The City committed its resources including Atlanta Housing Authority providing rental support for the new project under the Mayor Reed’s Homeless Demonstration program.


We believed there was a sustainable way to redevelop this vital housing resource, to structure it financially and operationally, and to provide permanent supportive housing for a 30 year commitment” says Jim Grauley, Columbia Residential’s president and chief operating officer.



The Imperial Hotel opened as a state-of-the-art permanent supportive housing facility in January 2014 and it has won numerous awards since then:


Charles L Edson Award for Tax Credit Excellence – 2014

Best Metropolitan/Urban Housing Development National Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition (DC)

NH&RA Awards of Excellence – Timothy Anderson Awards for Historic Preservation 2014

Judges Award for Best Achievement in Sustainability

Finalist – Best Historic Renovation Utilizing LIHTC National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA)

NALHFA Awards – 2014

Exemplary Project – HOME Funds National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies

ARC Developments of Excellence Awards - 2014

Overall Development of Excellence Award Winner Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC)

Atlanta Urban Design Commission Award of Excellence

Excellence in Historic Renovation City of Atlanta

AIA Atlanta Honor Awards for Residential Design– 2014

AIA Atlanta Residential Award American Institute of Architects – Atlanta Region

Build Georgia Awards 2014

Project Award of Excellence

Best Sustainable Building Practices Georgia Association of General Contractors



This list is an acknowledgement to the effort and dedication that was put into this renovation. The redevelopment was a comprehensive rehabilitation of all building systems, unit reconfiguration, roofs, building envelope, and common areas.  The Imperial was renovated to meet NPS Secretary of Interior Standards under Georgia SHPO, and Atlanta Urban Design Commission and in doing so maintained the historic integrity of building exterior, original windows, tile, moldings, and lobby / entry area.


The renovation created 90 state of the art efficiency apartments, a suite of supportive services and resident amenities on site.  Redevelopment utilized sustainable construction and redevelopment principles, including LEED Gold Certification Standards, energy recovery system, high efficiency lighting, appliances, water saving devices, smart building technology allowing for individual unit systems, metering, monitoring.


Total project cost was $19.2 million, of which $11.5 million was direct construction.  The project budget also funded the extensive relocation and interim services program, as well as project reserves to sustain successful long-term operations and services.


The project was financed utilizing an allocation of low income housing tax credits from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and Federal Historic Tax Credits.   National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) acted as syndicator for JP Morgan Chase and Sugar Creek Investments as project equity investors.  Construction/Permanent Mortgage (HOME program) loans were provided by the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority and City of Atlanta HOME program.  Construction/bridge financing was provided by Bank of America.  Bank of America also facilitated a Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta AHP Loan/Grant to the project.  Finally, additional philanthropic funders included the Home Depot Foundation and the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.


Permanent Supportive Housing Program

The program works to promote and improve mental, emotional, physical and financial stability for residents.  Residents are linked to internal programs and external community resources that assist them in achievement their highest level of self-sufficiency, create pathways to employment, and provide opportunities for residents to give back to the community.  This includes health services, job training, therapeutic support, education and financial literacy provided by St Joseph’s Mercy Care, National Church Residences and other providers.





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