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Wellroot blesses apartments at 750 E. Lake Drive

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Wellroot blesses apartments at 750 E. Lake Drive

Wellroot Chief Executive Officer Allison Ashe speaks during a ceremony to bless the property at 750 E. Lake Drive in Decatur. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — Wellroot will soon begin the second phase of renovations at the apartment complex at 750 E. Lake Drive. The organization blessed the property and residents on Wednesday, May 3.

Wellroot acquired the property last summer to provide homes for up to 30 young people in its transitional independent living programs.

“This summer, we’re embarking on renovations that will improve the apartments and the grounds, and that will build community space for classes and recreation,” Wellroot Board Chair Dan Beale said. “These improvements will allow us to double the number of young adults that we’re able to serve here on this property. It will pride a place of healing for all the young adults who call this place home.”

The Rev. Byron Thomas is the district superintendent for the central south district of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He gave a blessing during a brief ceremony on Wednesday.

“We pray to God that he will bless this place and the young people who call this home,” Thomas said. “Be with them, oh God, bind them together in strong relationships. We pray, oh God, for their safety, their peace, their security, and their prosperity in this life.”

Wellroot is a faith-centered family services organization that offers programs related to foster care, transitional and independent living, and family housing. It is an agency of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Wellroot serves over 200 children in the foster care system every year.

Allison Ashe, chief executive officer of Wellroot, said the property is already “an amazing place” for the young people in the program. It’s a place for them to grow to their fullest potential and establish their first apartment.

“It’s going to be a place where they’re building lifetime memories,” Ashe said. “We’re blessing the place where they’re [developing] lifetime friendships, where some of them have their first job, go to college for the first time.

Currently, 14 young people live on the property. The housing will be a mix of rentals and subsidized housing.

“Each year, over 500 young people graduate from or age out of the foster care system and some of them need a place to live. That is what this property is going to be,” Ashe said. “Young people aging out of foster care need stability, they need housing, they need opportunities for employment, they need an education. All of that is what they will find here at this property.”

Phase one renovations have been completed, including installing new stair railings and cleaning.

“Within the next few months, we’re going to start our full renovations,” Ashe said.

Phase two renovations will focus on aesthetic improvements, such as liming the brick and upgrading the interior of the units. There are two apartment buildings and one house on the property. The residents currently live in one building, and the other is vacant.

The house currently has a gathering space, a kitchen, offices, and laundry facilities.

Wellroot Family Services is set to receive $1.2 million in funding that Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) secured as part of the 2023 community project funding appropriations.

One grant award is $914,000 for renovating a newly purchased facility to house youth ages 18-21 at 750 E. Lake Drive. The funding will go toward phase two of the renovations. The second grant is $286,500, which will be used to support over 30 at-risk youth through the Safe and Stable Housing for Youth Aging Out of Care program.

Wellroot will renovate the vacant building first. Once that building is complete, the young people will move into the renovated building, and the second building and house on the property will be renovated.

“On the back of this building [the house], we’re going to be building a community space, which is a space that they will have classes, they’ll have activities, but most importantly they’ll build community and friendships with each other,” Ashe said.

Once the renovations are finished, Wellroot should be able to occupy both buildings fully

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said she is thrilled to welcome Wellroot back into the community. Wellroot was previously called the United Methodist Children’s Home.

It was previously located off South Columbia Drive in Decatur on the property that is now known as Legacy Park. The city of Decatur bought the property in 2017 for $40 million. The city and the Decatur Housing Authority are currently working on building the South Housing Village at Legacy Park, which will be 132 units of affordable housing.

“We welcome you with open arms,” Garrett said. “We’re so glad to have you here. As a person who really likes to do what we can to preserve affordability and off opportunities in the city of Decatur, I’m thrilled that the property is being renovated and being used and offering opportunities for young people to get their sea legs as they move into the world.”

The apartments at 750 East Lake Drive are some of Decatur’s naturally occurring affordable housing units, and city leaders were looking for ways to preserve this kind of housing. Wellroot’s purchase of the housing through an LLC resulted in letters being mailed to tenants, allowing them 38 days to vacate the property in August 2022.

A rendering of 750 E. Lake Drive shows what the property will look like once renovations are completed. Photo courtesy of Wellroot Family Services.

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