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Big City Ideas, Small Town Comfort

Posted: January 6, 2016 5:16 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2016 4:58 p.m.
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     There’s a new look to downtown streets thanks to the investment of Ray Hendley of Hendley Properties in re-developing homes and apartments in the austere areas of some neighborhoods. A long-time developer of student and family housing on the south side of town, Hendley and his team which includes wife Laura, daughters Ginny Hendley Rushing and Holly Hendley Wolfe, and Property Manager Bryan Davis, are working to offer something new and affordable in downtown living space. In doing so, they hope the new residents will increase foot traffic and spur economic development in the area.

     Studies show that to grow new businesses in slower commercial areas, you can create the demand for more services by building housing first. The more residents in the area demanding those services, the more businesses will relocate to the area to supply the demand.

     So far Hendley’s big city idea is working. His redevelopment of housing on the streets surrounding South Main Street has helped in the commercial redevelopment campaign, “Blue Mile,” spearheaded by the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority (DSDA), The Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Southern University. Several new businesses have already opened on South Main with some revitalizing existing buildings for reuse. For example, the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau remodeled and repurposed the old Shoney’s Restaurant into a new regional visitor’s center.

     Hendley has been housing University students and Statesboro residents for almost 50 years through his company, Hendley Properties. One of his early developments near Statesboro High School was the Lester Road Condominiums complex, townhouses with shared amenities like a swimming pool for residents, which he sold to individual home owners. He developed the condos along the lines of Hilton Head Island, SC, type housing.

     In 1978, he developed Greenbriar subdivision with multi-family dwellings and duplexes in new neighborhoods located mostly on the south side of town off of Fair Road. By the early 1980s, he had spread out with more townhouses and single level cottage-type construction in Hawthorne I & II and Sagebrush. All these condominiums and apartments also had upscale amenities like swimming pools and volleyball courts to attract students and young professionals.

     In the 1980s and 1990s, Hendley developed the Olde Towne subdivision and Greenbriar Trail with over 100 single family homes, bringing his real estate offerings to from 400-500 units for sale, rent or lease.

     By the 2000s student housing was becoming a saturated marketplace with many new large student housing complexes locating near the University. Even with the increase in student housing competition, the properties that Hendley owned remained good investments continuing to be identified by students as premium housing.

     Hendley stated, “People always think I am the one who has done all this. It’s because of the association with the name Hendley Properties. But, I have a great team that works well together in making our company what it is.”

     Property Manager Bryan Davis explained, “We saw an opportunity to diversify into more housing for families and professionals. People always call us about family homes.”

     Hendley and Davis were enthusiastic about renovating downtown properties for many reasons, two of which were: They would be saving some older established neighborhoods from blight and they would be rescuing tenants from poor housing conditions offered by absentee landlords or owners who were no longer able to maintain or upgrade existing properties.

     Hendley started with Magnolia Village, a property of 12 units located near the Statesboro Regional Library. He and his team totally renovated the existing apartments giving the inside new flooring and interior fixtures and appliances, while giving the outside a craftsman feel with new roofing, painting, and landscaping.

     Realtor Nick Propps approached Hendley Properties about land located behind the Midtown Plaza on South Main. The Village at Midtown was developed as a community of 650 sq/ft one bedroom units with stainless steel appliances, washer/dryer, walk-in closet, and private back patio. A $2 million project from the ground up, the Village was rented almost before construction was completed.

     The Hendley’s have since added 70-80 properties downtown around the Main Street area: The Village at Midtown, Magnolia Village, the Fountain at Mulberry, Walnut Grove, and The Manor. Each development has a distinct look with architectural features and attractive features that define the communities. At the Fountain at Mulberry, there is a large fountain as the focal point of landscaping and decorative street lamps, walkways, and curbed parking for residents. The fountain not only adds to the aesthetics, it also saved a large area for green space downtown.

     Hendley Properties also participates as a sponsor in the Homes for Heroes Project. Abandoned or condemned homes are being purchased and renovated by the DSDA to be sold at cost to firefighters and police officers in the same neighborhoods in which Hendley is creating housing for families and professionals. The project redevelops older properties preserving the integrity of the neighborhoods, while obtaining housing for public safety personnel who will provide a stabilizing factor for the areas in which they live.

     “There are a lot of moving parts to the developments,” Davis stated. “We have Maxwell-Reddick draw up the plans, we enlist the builders, Jamey Cartee and John Lamar do all of our new properties, while Hendley Properties does all the remodeling of existing buildings.”

      Hendley is currently working on housing developments on land stretching from the corner of Bulloch Street (Number 18) to South Walnut Street (pictured). That property when finished will have a two-story apartment house, a one level house, and four single bedroom dwellings with a common entrance. They’re working on a development at West Inman and South College as well.

     “We analyze spots as they come available,” stated Davis. “We want our projects to have a good EDR report – nothing subsidized. We always say, ‘Can the property take care of itself?’” There are also incentives to be considered through the City of Statesboro and the DSDA for private investment in these non-revenue producing areas.

     One of the existing historical buildings Hendley saved was the Kelly house on South College Street. It was the home of Emma Kelly and her family – where all ten children were raised. Hendley was able to purchase it and totally remodel it into 10 separate apartments, which are all filled.

     “We know if we can bring a large professional crowd downtown, then the rest will follow,” said Davis. “As long as there is opportunity for growth and we have the appropriate things in place that we need to work with, we will continue to invest in downtown Statesboro.”


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