Creating a successful, architecturally interesting mixed-income residential project while sticking to a strict budget can be a challenge. Columbia Senior Residences at MLK Village, however, proves it can be done.

Developed by Atlanta-based Columbia Residential, Columbia Senior Residences is a four-story apartment property dedicated to senior citizens 62 years and older located in the master-planned community of MLK Village, a redevelopment of a notorious inner-city neighborhood. It consists of 122 one-bedroom, one-bath units of 740 square feet, of which 80 percent are reserved for low-income residents (those earning up to 60 percent of the area median income) and 20 percent are market-rate units with no restrictions.

“The whole idea of this development was to enhance lives, and the quality level of this project is the same as what we'd do for a 100 percent market-rate project,” says Ron Harwick, vice president and founding partner of James, Harwick + Partners, the Dallas-based architectural firm that designed Columbia Senior Residences.

In an effort to stretch the budget, James, Harwick + Partners focused on using different materials and colors, while playing with window placements in order to break up the façade and provide depth and variation to the building's elevation. The design team also incorporated a cantilevered porte cochère and vertical sign banner to add interest to the project's exterior.

With construction costs of roughly $73 per square foot, Columbia Senior Residences features common amenities such as a theater, dining and dance hall, exercise facility, and library. Outdoors, residents can enjoy a heavily landscaped courtyard with seating and meditation areas, walking paths, a community vegetable garden, and a pond, which also handles stormwater retention.

“It was very important to us that residents felt comfortable and proud of where they live,” Harwick says. And they clearly do—100 percent of the project was leased as of press time.

Fast Facts Developer: Columbia Residential

Architect: James, Harwick + Partners

Builder: H. J. Russell & Co.

Opened: October 2007