“Affordable, affordable, affordable,” was Mayor Van Johnson’s refrain as he spoke before the facade of Pulaski House, home of SCAD SERVE’s first affordable housing initiative in Savannah, The Lofts on Pulaski.
SCAD reps gave the public a first glimpse into new workforce housing building Tuesday, which will be located at 328 Barnard St. According to SCAD SERVE Director Scott Linzey, the building’s rent prices have been regulated to be affordable based on the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines for 2022.
The renovation of SCAD’s historic first residence hall, Pulaski House aligns with the city’s initiative to increase availability of affordable housing in historic downtown. The creation of The Lofts on Pulaski is part of the university’s SCAD SERVE initiative, which was designed to “empower the SCAD community to listen to the needs of its neighbors and local leaders and to implement meaningful design solutions that improve quality of life,’ according to officials.
“It helps people that are making 15 to 20 dollars (an hour) to afford to live, to be able to exist,” said Johnson. “This is an excellent step in the right direction, and I want to give credit where it’s due: SCAD did this thing.”
Apartments in the 22-unit dwelling will be available to rent for workers in the broadly-defined service industry. According to a press release, residents will begin to move in by January 2022. The school expects applicants soon.
SCAD has enlisted Savannah-based property management firm Mia Madison to oversee the Lofts on Pulaski. The firm will handle tenant applications, vetting and selection based on HUD guidelines.
The building has 14 studio apartments, seven two-story loft apartments, and one two-bedroom apartment. Each has a full kitchen, an HVAC system and LED lighting. Residents will also have access to all SCAD parking lots.
According to Linzey, each unit sits at or below the Savannah-specific HUD 2022 guidelines.
Studio units cost $775, loft units cost $995, and the two-bedroom unit costs $1065. Electric, sewage and water will be included in the rent. The apartment will have a pay-per-use laundry facility on the ground floor.
“Our essential workers aren’t getting second-class accommodations here,” said SCAD President Paula Wallace. “They’re getting the best SCAD style just as they deserve.”
“Workforce housing is one of Savannah’s most challenging concerns, and the Lofts on Pulaski jump-starts a new era that redefines excellence, accessibility, and affordability. Every element of these beautiful lofts — from their functional yet refined design to their location in the heart of Savannah — embodies SCAD’s mission, vision, and values,” added Wallace.
The Pulaski House was built in 1915 to house the Savannah Jewish Education Alliance. SCAD purchased the property in 1990. The school then converted it into its first residence hall.
In March 2021, SCAD officials announced the school would convert Pulaski Hall from a residence hall to an affordable apartment building. The SCAD Design Group designed the units, and in less than a year, renovations finished.
“SCAD heard the call from the city, and nine months later, here we are ready for tenants to move in,” said Linzey. “We’re excited to be able to answer that call and look forward to being able to continue to contribute to the city of Savannah.”
In July 2020, Mayor Johnson and city Aldermen organized the Housing Savannah Taskforce to address the city’s affordable housing crisis, which he said has lurked beneath Savannah’s economic explosion. According to HUD, affordable housing costs just 30 percent or less of a household’s annual income.
While the unveiling highlighted the apartment’s trim price tag, Mayor Johnson lauded the property’s other quality: location, location, location. Pulaski Square sits just beneath Liberty St., centrally located to where much of Savannah’s service industry lies.
“People who work downtown can now live downtown,” Johnson said. “Mothers with children won’t have to travel inordinate amounts of time to be able to get from to to-and-fro, and they have the ability to enjoy what many people enjoy, a piece of Savannah’s beautiful pristine downtown.”
For more information on SCAD SERVE and the Lofts on Pulaski, visit scad.edu/scadserve