Commission Approves Loan Deal for Howell School Development

Dothan, AL - For as long as 22 year old Mahogoney can remember, the historic Howell School has been empty.

“This building right here, I’ve been waiting a long time for the community to come together and do something with it,” said Mahogoney.

The Bennett Group hopes to do that by turning it into an affordable senior housing complex.

It’s an investment of nearly $14 million.

The developers have applied for a $600,000 loan against future community block grant money. The group has agreed to repay half of the loan at the end of construction.

The Dothan City Commissioners had to approve this before they could move forward.

Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said, “The community grant helps them get the tax credits they need to do the development. If we didn’t do this, they couldn’t do the development.”

But not all commissioners gave their approval.

“I cannot support that kind of gamble,” said District 2 Commissioner Amos Newsome.

He argues the area is unsafe and the project might not work costing the city money.

However, Mayor Mike Schmitz says it’s worth the risk.

“I know we’ll be ok. Worst case scenario is $300,000, but it’s such a high gain I think it’s worth the risk and I think the city should do it. It will be an incredible project in a part of town that needs it,” said Schmitz.

“It’s just a great future to look forward to,” said Mahogoney.

The developers still have to get the loan approved. Then, they can apply for the tax credits.

It could be another eight months before the project is definite.

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