A former Bankhead motel that’s been vacant for more than two decades is set to begin its conversion to a more admirable purpose this week, project officials say.

Philanthropic organization City of Refuge has scheduled a groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon for a project off Joseph E. Boone Boulevard called The 345, the group’s second Westside housing initiative.

The 345 Chappell Road building was built in 1959 and formerly operated as the Danzig Motel—one of Atlanta’s only Black-owned motels—but has been abandoned for more than 21 years, according to City of Refuge officials.  

Plans call for renovating the three-story structure into a 31-unit affordable housing community for Black men from the 30314 zip code, which encompasses a wide swath of Westside neighborhoods from downtown to near Interstate 285. 

Those residents will include military veterans, people from the area returning to society from incarceration, and other men ages 18 to 24, officials said.

The condition of the former motel in 2020. Google Maps

The 345 project in an early rendering. City of Refuge

The initiative comes amid housing shortage concerns and sharply rising Westside home prices. Just down the street from The 345 site, the upper tier of new townhomes in Bankhead carries prices close to $700,000, and remodeled homes in nearby English Avenue and Hunter Hills are have listed around a half-million dollars or more.

According to Realtor.com, the median list price for a Bankhead home stood at $349,000 in January—an increase of nearly 133 percent year-over-year. 

In summer 2020, City of Refuge opened a 47-unit affordable housing community on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard called The 1300, located across the street from the organization’s campus. That building is now 100 percent occupied.

The organization was founded in 1997 with a goal to help community members become more self-sufficient. With the introduction of affordable homes and rentals in the neighborhood, City of Refuge hopes to end generational cycles of poverty.

The site's 345 Chappell Road location on the western edge of Bankhead. Google Maps

City of Refuge bought the former motel in 2017 and expects the renovation to cost $2 million. Alpharetta-based Pencor Construction is leading the project, officials said in a press release today.

Residents at The 345 will receive housing and access—for up to three years—to City of Refuge’s wraparound services that include healthcare, childcare, addiction recovering, counseling, budgeting, and employment, among other programs. All three floors of the building will be overseen by supervisors who act as advisors to residents.

“For decades, Atlanta’s Westside has been forgotten and left in the dark,” Bruce Deel, City of Refuge’s founder and CEO, said in today’s announcement. “As the area becomes more attractive to developers, it’s imperative that we provide current and future residents with opportunities to thrive.”

Planned facade at The 345 project. City of Refuge

Bankhead townhome prices now flirting with—gulp—$700K (Urbanize Atlanta)