For a little more than 50 years, the Oscar Thomie homes served as a piece of history.
"When you have numerous tenants moving in and out of a unit, the damage is astronomical," Sheryl Frazier, the executive director for the housing authority, said.
The units helped thousands in Warner Robins get back on their feet during financial hardships.
Frazier says when she first got the job in 2009, her first priority was to fix up the old homes. Tenants haven’t lived there since 2011.
"To go in and rehab them would have required the removal of asbestos, lead paint, new roofs, new floors, new bathrooms," Frazier said.
She and others with the housing authority honored Oscar Thomie on Tuesday. The complex was named after Thomie for his service.
Thomie’s widow, Minnie, says after years of living in the neighborhood, she’s happy to see a new beginning.
"It means a great deal because you really need, people need, standard housing. I’m proud to know that they’re tearing them down and going to renew them," Minnie Thomie said.
The plan is to create affordable, mixed-income, and home ownership opportunities for residents as the project progresses.
Mayor Randy Toms says the day is a reflection of where he wants to take the city.
"This to me is of bigger significance than just affordable housing. It’s also significant that we use this figuratively to show that we’re a community that’s willing tear down walls of divide," Toms said.
Frazier says the cost to tear down the old houses is around $400,000 and she says the move is worth very penny.
"We want to give low to moderate income families the same opportunities as anyone else living in Warner Robins."
There are 70 units where the Oscar Thomie homes stand. Frazier says the plan is to create about 200 units in the next five years in that neighborhood and around the city.
All of the debris collected from the construction will be donated to the Guardian Center in Perry.