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Legacy Decatur approves new tenant leases for Williams, Hemphill Cottages


Legacy Decatur approves new tenant leases for Williams, Hemphill Cottages

The Administration Building at Legacy Park on South Columbia Drive in the city of Decatur on August 12, 2020. The park occupies the former site of the United Methodist Children’s Home. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Refugee Women’s Network will soon have a new home at the Williams Cottage at Legacy Park in Decatur. Wild Nest will also soon occupy Hemphill Cottage at the park as the Legacy Decatur board approved the leases with the organizations at the board meeting on Thursday, July 22.

Legacy Decatur is the board that oversees Legacy Park, the former United Methodist Children’s Home property on South Columbia Drive.

The Refugee Women’s Network is a nonprofit that provides support, leadership training and economic development instruction for refugee women. The organization is currently based in Tucker but wishes to move to Legacy Park to be closer to their clientele in Clarkston and also be in a more central part of DeKalb County, Legacy Decatur Executive Director Lyn Menne said.

The Williams Cottage will serve as offices for the organization and provide space for classes and training for the women they serve. The lease also includes use of two commercial kitchen spaces in Hawkins Hall that would be upgraded by RWN for use as a training kitchen and to house the nonprofit’s chefs club program, according to the agenda packet.

The lease is for a five-year term to be able to give RWN more stability as they are an established organization and are moving their entire office to Legacy Park, Menne said.

“It also gives us, I think, some coverage because there will be some investment that we’re making so it would be nice to have a tenant occupy that space for five years,” Menne said.

Legacy Decatur will upgrade one bathroom to meet ADA requirements and install a ramp on the north side of the building. RWN will also receive a two-month rent abatement.

“The first year’s term, with that two-month abatement, will generate $30,830 in rental income and then the second term of the lease, which will go into effect in September of 2022, for that full term a 3% increase would be about $38,000 a year for annual income,” Menne said.

She added that the lease fits the mission of Legacy Decatur and she thinks the lease is important as RWN works with diverse communities, is doing things that will support and engage community groups and has a strong relationship with Global Growers.

The second lease is with Wild Nest, which is a nonprofit established to provide care and rehabilitation to wild birds with a goal of releasing them back to the wild. Wild Nest will operate out of Hemphill Cottage and the lease is for three years.

Wild Nest was originally created under the umbrella of Georgia Audubon and now exists as an independent nonprofit. The cottage at Legacy Park will provide a small office for staff and volunteers, as well as space to house injured birds and nestlings and provide needed medical care, according to the agenda packet.

Plans for Hemphill Cottage include building a small aviary near the cottage in the future to provide a transition for birds being prepared for release. Wild Nest has also discussed participating in education programs for the community to talk about birds and how to rehabilitate birds, Menne said.

Wild Nest will recieve a three-month rent abatement. Legacy Decatur would receive about $15,500 in rent in the first year and the second year would be about $22,600.

“It fits with our mission, provides that community education and partnership and it’s something different that we don’t have anywhere else on the property,” Menne said.

— In other business, the Decatur Land Trust moved one step closer to becoming an independent nonprofit organization as the Legacy Decatur board voiced their support for the transition although the board has yet to formally vote on the separation.

The Land Trust was created a couple of years ago and a five-member board was appointed by Legacy Decatur in 2019. The Land Trust has always planned to become a stand-alone nonprofit and it is ready to move forward with the process.

Through the land trust, the city will be able to acquire property through a purchase or donation and facilitate the development or preservation of affordable housing. The entity would also maintain the ground lease for the affordable units in order to keep the affordable over time as the units are re-sold and rented, Decaturish previously reported.

“We feel the timing for the establishment is consistent with several pending projects that are on the horizon, including the cottage courts and a deed restricted condominium project that was created at 108 Park Place under the city of Decatur’s inclusionary housing policy,” Affordable Housing Fellow Kristin Allin said at the June 7 Decatur City Commission meeting.

The Land Trust has been working on developing its bylaws and have made a couple of changes to be more specific regarding the mission of the organization, Decatur Land Trust board member Alan McNabb said at the Legacy Decatur meeting. One change that was made was adding a provision to allow the Decatur city manager and mayor to each appoint one member to the Decatur Land Trust board.

“We did get a resolution supporting the establishment of the Decatur Land Trust from the City Commission,” McNabb said. “We still have some work to do but we are ready to get it formed. The articles are prepared. The bylaws, I think, will be ready hopefully in the next few weeks.”

Menne said that Legacy Decatur doesn’t see themselves moving away from the Decatur Land Trust as there will be opportunities for both organizations to be partners and work together in the future.

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