Gayfers affordable housing project ‘in peril’ after concerns over the project continue

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Last month Mayor Sandy Stimpson asked the city council to consider $8 million in American Rescue Plan money to turn the old Gayfers building into 95 affordable workforce housing units.

“The people who are working in our bars and restaurants,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “If you can live in the area where you’re going to work it certainly saves you money.”

Those who live near the project in downtown aren’t so sure that Dauphin Street is the right place for that kind of project.

“I just don’t think the Gayfers would be the right fit. You can’t put 95 apartments with 55 parking spaces it will not work,” said one speaker.

“It’s all higher-end restaurants,” said Rebecca Lasher. “It’s not expensive but it’s not conducive to having small children. It’s just the way that it is because it’s the entertainment district and that is the essence of it.”

Others feel like targeting those in the downtown workforce might not be the best use for the ARPA funding.

“The setup is not for the disadvantaged families. Anytime you have one bedroom that was not designed for families,” said Estella Trotter.

Council members also raised concerns on if that money could be better used towards affordable housing in other areas of the city like Maysville or Toulminville or even using some of that money to improve Africatown.

“We’re trying to put money towards downtown which is vibrant but we have an area that’s being nationwide and we’re not really putting emphasis on it,” said Council President CJ Small.

The council plans to look over the plan for the next two weeks but some feel the delay won’t change much.

“There’s no sense in holding them on the hook for two weeks think we’re going to get the vote,” said Councilman Ben Reynolds.

Chief of Staff James Barber did mention the administration is working on a plan that would provide single-family residential affordable housing throughout all seven districts should the Gayfers project fail. The council is expected to vote on the Gayfers project on June 21st.

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