MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Housing Authority said residents living at Thomas James Place and R.V. Taylor Plaza developments will have two options to move when the Housing Authority demolishes 739 buildings and 1,246 units. Residents can relocate 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 news release that maintenance and rehabilitation on these older buildings, many of them already uninhabitable, would cost too much money. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Special Application Center agreed with MHA’s assessment of the properties and approved the demolition.

“Both developments have hundreds of vacant and uninhabitable units,” according to the MHA news release. “No reasonable program of modification is cost-effective to return them to useful life. Capital needs expenditures exceed the HUD-established obsolescence threshold.”

The conditions detailed in the MHA news release are stark, including collapsed bathroom floors, severe termite damage and daily sewer backups.

“There is no central air in half of the units,” according to MHA. “In those units residents may purchase window units that often block egress from bedrooms. When not installed properly, the window units rot out windowsills and walls due to moisture.”

All of these problems have led to “negative stigma associated with the property,” according to the MHA. Through vandalism into the mix and the result is “significant vacancies at the 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 of this cost?

MHA provided cost estimates for demolition and moving residents. To illustrate why they believe 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 rehab Thomas James Place. Demolition will cost $5,170,000 at that property. MHA estimated it would cost $66,969,000 to rehab R.V. Taylor Plaza, but only $3,206,440 to demolish it.

There are other savings, too. MHA had both properties appraised. The nearly 240 acres of James Place are worth $19,815,000. The nearly 93-acre Taylor Plaza is worth $8,177,000. Because there is no debt on the properties, all the money made from selling the land can go “to modernize public housing units,” according to the release.

When you factor in the cost to relocate residents, which MHA said is $1,593,236, the cost-benefit analysis is clear, according to MHA: redevelop the properties, something it’s been working on since 2016, according to the release.

Next steps:

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

Tenants who do not wish to move to other MHA properties may get Tenant Protection Vouchers. Those vouchers are used to help residents pay for a new place to live.