“Everybody wants to hire locally, it just makes sense. It’s also enjoyable to see the local people involved,” said Mark Stovall with Walton Construction Services of Marietta, the general contractor for the complex. At the same time, Stovall told the Etowah Village Advisory committee Monday, “I don’t want to oversell it; I don’t want to be over optimistic.”
Stovall explained to the citizens group that construction of the senior living apartment complex will be subject to a lot of regulation and oversight and people will have to be qualified, sub-contractors will have to meet certain insurance requirements, an issue which community activist Alvin Jackson said could present a problem. “A lot of minority contractors don’t have enough work to have insurance,” Jackson said
Wendy Green, a senior real estate development specialist with Mercy Housing SouthEast, agreed with a suggestion to conduct some sort of job information meeting in South Rome to make the community aware of what types of jobs will be needed and when particular trades will be on site. The contractor said a job fair might be appropriate about 30 days prior to construction.
Green said she is hopeful that construction could start this summer. The timing will depend on the outcome of challenges filed by the Mount Aventine Community Association, Save Etowah Terrace and individual property owners Wanda and Randolph Michael, who claim that the city of Rome acted improperly during the process of rezoning the site across from Myrtle Hill Cemetery. The challenges are currently pending before Floyd Superior Court Judge Bryant Durham.
Stovall said past experience with getting communities directly involved in large construction projects has been hot and cold. “Sometimes it works out great. It’s going to depend on the attitudes of people whatever side of Rome they’re from,” said Stovall.
At one point during Monday’s brainstorming session, Stovall even suggested that church youth groups could get involved in the work. Mary Lucchese with the Mount Aventine Community Association said there are a lot of adults in South Rome who are unemployed and trying to support families that need to be involved in the project.
“Hopefully we will start in South Rome and then move out into the community,” said Green.
Stovall said by distributing job applications well in advance of actual construction, the South Rome Redevelopment Agency would also be creating a database for projects that agency official’s hope will follow on the heels of the Etowah Village development.
Kelvin Portis, principal at the Anna K. Davie Elementary School in South Rome indicated that flyers regarding job opportunities could be distributed through the schools parent- teacher organization.
The Rome project will mark the first collaboration between Walton and Mercy SouthEast. The firm has done a number of projects for senior adults in the metro Atlanta area, including their own Legacy At Walton Village and Legacy at Walton Lakes — traditional apartment homes in the Cobb County area for adults.
“Fifty-five, that’s not a senior, that’s an active person,” Stovall said of the target population for the Etowah Village apartments.
The Etowah Village Advisory Council includes representatives from various neighborhood groups, churches and other stakeholders in South Rome.