It was an eyesore. Blighted. Neglected. Badly in need of restoration.
But the town still wanted it. After all, it held a lifetime of memories – some good, some bad.
The old R.J. Taylor Memorial Hospital sat vacant in the heart of Hawkinsville, Georgia, for over 40 years. A place where births were celebrated, lives were saved and deaths were mourned was falling apart.
But on this day, new memories would be made. Good ones. Because this day carried the promise of a brighter future.
Restored and transformed through ambition and partnership, the former hospital shined at its recent grand opening. Healthcare is no longer provided. But the services, once again, are vital. Because the old R.J. Taylor Memorial Hospital is now Taylor Village, where some of the newest, most affordable housing in Georgia can be found.
Sam Way, 93, recalled the hospital’s original grand opening in 1938. He was 12 when he attended that one.
“My grandfather and R.J. Taylor were longtime business partners, so the original grand opening was an opportunity for my parents to introduce me to the man my grandfather highly respected,” Way said. “R.J. Taylor would be proud of this facility today. It certainly keeps with the spirit of the original place he donated to Hawkinsville.”
The transformation required strategy and collaboration. Atlanta-based TBG Residential found a way to convert the facility into 34 affordable apartments. With an eye toward preserving the building’s legacy, developers kept original elements wherever they could. The tile in the operating room? Cleaned, polished and preserved. The nursery window, where families saw babies for the first time? Still there. Original windows and doors? All part of the apartments.
TBG worked with several partners, including Regions Bank.
Regions provided $6.7 million through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and Historic Tax Credit (HTC) program, plus a $7.3 million construction loan. Regions is a leader in supporting affordable housing through LIHTC; it’s a financial resource that encourages private builders to develop new or rehabilitate existing housing for ownership or for rent. Over time, Regions has invested more than $1 billion in the tax credits, resulting in the construction or rehabilitation of more than 25,000 units of affordable housing.
Taylor Village is a great example of a what a public-private partnership can do to restore a historically significant building and put it to good use by providing safe, clean affordable housing.
Reed Dolihite, Affordable Housing Relationship Manager, Regions Bank
“Affordable housing is one of the most powerful ways we can make a difference for people,” explained Reed Dolihite, Affordable Housing Relationship Manager for Regions. “This is not only about providing financing. This is about having an impact in a way that’s deeply personal and meaningful for people. Taylor Village is a great example of a what a public-private partnership can do to restore a historically-significant building and put it to good use by providing safe, clean affordable housing.”
TBG President Kevin Buckner said the banking relationship with Regions not only helped the Hawkinsville restoration become a reality, it also supports the company’s other developments.
“TBG and Regions Bank have a long relationship,” Buckner said. “They invest in affordable housing throughout the country, and Regions is our primary source for construction lending and purchase of low-income housing tax credits. We’re grateful Regions came to Hawkinsville with us.”
“As a company, we’re committed to using our resources and services in ways that strengthen communities,” added Tiffany Kirk, Community Development Specialist for Regions. “When you look at Taylor Village, this is more than a property. This is home. Life happens here. And we’re proud to have served a role in bringing Taylor Village itself to life.”
Dodie Dickerson is the first person to move in. Her corner apartment is just above the old doctors’ offices. For a while, she was the only resident as others completed applications.
“I got the pick of the crop,” Dickerson said with a large smile as she welcomed guests at the grand opening.
Dickerson’s grandchildren helped her move from Fayetteville to be closer to her brother and sister-in-law. She said her grandchildren enjoyed exploring the renovated hospital, looking for something in particular.
“They looked for ghosts,” she said laughing. “But they didn’t see anything.”
Dickerson said she often lies in bed and thinks about the history and significance of where she is. People were born here. Died here. And she’s now calling this place her home.
“I’m glad to live at Taylor Village,” Dickerson said. “It is a unique place to call home.”
More people are moving into this piece of Hawkinsville history, welcome news for those hopeful for continued investments in the area.
“This project is so important to our town,” said Hawkinsville City Commissioner Shelly Berryhill. “By having more people live downtown, it will help bring more development.”
And that development could extend beyond residential investments to include more job opportunities, too.
“For us to encourage and recruit industrial prospects, we must be able to show that we can house the workforce,” Berryhill said. “This is an important project for workforce housing.”
Indeed, there are needs that remain in Hawkinsville. But what’s happening at Taylor Village gives the town a hopeful prognosis. The heart of this town is now beating stronger.