With no sign and little hint of anyone living there, Dalewood Estates may just be the poster child for wasteful projects. Mayoral candidate and former state representative John White is part of the group who developed this property, reportedly using taxpayer money.
Written by Tom Knighton
If you found yourself taking your children to the Dalewood Estates development off Willie Pitts Road, you were probably disappointed when no one answered the door. It had nothing to do with rudeness however. Instead, it had everything to do with obvious lack seniors living in the complex.
Dalewood Estates, which boasts 49 apartments in six buildings plus a clubhouse, was supposed to be completed in October, 2008. Built as what’s called a HUD section 202 project, it was supposed to provide housing to disadvantaged seniors. Instead, it just sits there, with little sign of habitation.
In and of itself, that’s bad enough. However, when you look at the names involved, it reads like a who’s who of questionable development deals. First, there is Greenbrier Holding, owner of the Heritage House. Greenbrier Holding, in their proposal to partner with the City of Albany to the tune of $16 million in federal money to develop the Heritage House as low income housing, listed Dalewood Estates as a previous development.
Also involved was the late John I. Rivers, a principle in JIR Associates and JIRA Properties, just to name a couple. Rivers most notably worked on the failed Grovetown project, now synonymous with the name Cutliff Grove, which is allegedly under investigation by the GBI for misuse of HUD money provided by the City of Albany. Rivers, in addition to his involvement in Grovetown, is listed as the developer for Dalewood Estates.
One of the most interesting names, however is Albany mayoral candidate John White. White served as the Chief Financial Officer and corporate secretary for Dalewood Estates Senior Housing, Inc., the non-profit formed to building and manage the complex. White is also listed as a reference from Greenbrier Holding in their proposal regarding the Heritage House.
White, early in his campaign, touted his vision for the Heritage House. In July, White kicked off his campaign by unveiling his plan to have the Heritage House renovated; despite many people classifying the building as an eyesore. He told the audience, “It doesn’t look very good, we understand that, but if the city spends $1 million to tear it down, all you’ll ever have there is an empty lot.”
Curiously, White made no mention of any ties to Greenbrier Holding during that speech. He did say that he had talked to the owner who referred to the Heritage House structure as “it’s a sound structure, all we have to do is put a new face on it,” but makes no specific mention of being listed as a reference.
White claims he knew nothing of Greenbrier’s listing of him as a reference. “This is news to me; I would like to know how I got to be listed as a reference for Greenbrier?” He went on to say, “I have no relationship with Greenbrier. I have spoken with the owner relative to his intentions regarding the property, but have never met him.”
White further denied wanting to use taxpayer funds for the renovation when asked. “As I have said many times, the renovation of the property would be an economic generator because, I’m told by architects and some builders that it would create nearly 400 jobs for this community, 125 to 150 jobs during the construction stage and the balance would be permanent Jobs. My platform says nothing about using tax money to renovate the property.”
Regardless of who White wants to foot the bill, it’s highly irregular to list a reference who has never met you or key members of your company, especially in light of the fact that White is a well known member of the community. It seems bizarre that he would be listed when he knew nothing of the company. This is compounded by the fact that Dalewood Estates is also listed on the proposal.
On Page 7 of the proposal, apparently written by the City of Albany to secure HUD funds for the Heritage House project, Greenbrier is listed as having “[c]onducted the development of Dalewood Estates, a 49-unit HUD 202 Senior Citizen Housing and Clubhouse Development being developed on 5 acres of a 38-acre tract.” This is the same Dalewood Estates that lists John White on their board.
Greenbrier is also listed as being behind Cutliff Grove’s Grovetown development on page 20 of the same proposal, just under John White’s name being listed in association with Dalewood Estates.
If White has no ties to Greenbrier Holding, it is unclear as to how his name was listed as a reference, or how Dalewood Estates was listed as one of Greenbrier’s developments.