An $8 million investment to construct 44 homes south of Dupont Drive passed unanimously after a vote from City Council during the first reading on Monday night.

The second reading of the ordinance will be held on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Municipal Building, located at 214 Park Ave.

Aiken City staff and Dupont Landing LLC., a S.C. nonprofit corporation, discussed for some time an award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the state to construct 44 detached single-family homes on land owned by the Second Baptist Church – an $8 million investment. The homes would be located south of Dupont Drive, east of Teague Street and north of Columbia Avenue.

Residents would rent detached units for 15 years, according to the development agreement, and, if properties are maintained properly and other requirements are met, the properties would then be eligible for purchase from the developers. A portion of the rent would also constitute as equity for the purchase.

“These are rental units, and, at the end of the 13th year, how many years someone rents is how many years we will calculate how much we have available for a down payment,” Harvey Ramseur, executive director of Dupont Landing LLC. said. “It puts a twist in the package. So after year 13, individuals in those units will get the training to make them ready for homeownership in 15 years (two years after training begins).”

The homes would serve a mixed-income residence with a percentage of the homes available for low-income residents – targeting working class, city employees and middle-class employees.

City Council did initially approve a development agreement for Dupont Landing, covering residential impact fees and up to $100,000 toward stormwater detention and retention out of the Northside redevelopment budget. With four more homes added, the stormwater funding will stay the same.

Council member Lessie Price said 44 homes would add a tremendous need in the community for residential rental units and a clean, safe community.

“Certainly when you look at what Second Baptist has already done, they have clearly demonstrated they can build homes safely and they still maintain their value over a long period of time,” Price said. “I just want to thank a faith-based institution at looking at the needs of the community and doing something about it.”

Dupont is currently working with issues related to easements, utilities and other legal matters. But once completed, and, after the passing of the second reading in December, the homes should be ready to build, according to Ramseur.

“We should be ready to start by the end of the year,” Ramseur said. “(The) builder said it will take 11 months for completion.”

In other business, Council unanimously voted to pass an ordinance at first reading to amend the 2013 and 2014 budget to use Accommodations Tax Revenue funds to pay for soccer lights at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center, located at 1700 Whiskey Road.

During the first reading, Council also unanimously voted to amend the business license code to allow mobile food vendors and an amendment requiring those who wish to apply for future licenses to be first cleared of all debt.

For more information, call 803-642-7654.

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville.