By David Pendered
Atlanta on Monday announced its plan to sell just over an acre of land in the BeltLine corridor. The property is across North Avenue from Ponce City Market and abuts the Eastside Trail next to the Historic Fourth Ward Park.
The city intends to select a developer on April 17. The vacant property was formally put on the auction block Monday by Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm.
Invest Atlanta issued a request for proposals that includes 11 specific objectives for the property. The goals include the creation of affordable housing, while also building something costly enough to maximize property tax value – and with it the tax proceeds that get plowed back into building the BeltLine’s amenities.
There’s no telling what the property is worth today. Price is just one of four criteria. The city’s RFP states that the selection formula is based on:
- Price: 35 percent;
- Comply with goals: 25 percent;
- Financial capacity to deliver the project: 25 percent
- Experience with similar projects: 15 percent.
In regards to land prices in the area, one comparable value is the adjacent Masquerade nightclub.
That property sold for $4 million in 2006, at the height of the most recent real estate boom, according to Fulton County tax records. Today the property is worth $1.4 million, according to the county’s valuation.
The Masquerade site is 0.6 acres and includes a structure built in 1900 that may be a terrific event space, but is a nightmare for redevelopment. A proposal to demolish the old mill structure and build 200 condos ran afoul of preservationists. The recession took care of the rest of the controversy.
The city’s property has challenges of its own.
For starters, there’s no street frontage. Then, there are 11 specific objectives for the site that the developer is to meet.
A view from Google Earth shows the site is mostly vacant. The city’s site map shows the property measures 1.098 acres and is located between North Avenue and Dallas Street. North Angier is on one side and the Eastside Trail is on the other side.
The property does abut the Eastside Trail. The Eastside Trail essentially has one end in Piedmont Park and the other end on Irwin Street. The trail crosses over Ponce de Leon Avenue on a scenic railroad bridge and stretches a total length of about 2.25 miles.
The parcel does not abut the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Another sliver of land is located between the city’s parcel that’s for sale and a parcel that the map states is owned by Poncey Highlands Investors, Inc. Poncey Highlands Investors owns the Masquerade, according to county tax records.
The timeline in the request for proposals states the following target dates:
- Thursday – Deadline for questions;
- Friday – Questions to be answered;
- April 9 – RFPs due by 5 p.m.;
- April 11 – Selection committee recommendation;
- April 17 – Invest Atlanta’s board of directors selects the winning proponent; Mayor Kasim Reed chairs the board; this may well be the last meeting to be managed by Brian McGowan, the Invest Atlanta president/CEO who has resigned to take a job with the chamber that begins April 28.
The RFP issued by Invest Atlanta contains the following sections on goals and vision:
Goals for the Property
- Increase residential density and diversity
- Increase the supply and availability of workforce and affordable housing
- Maximize the financial return to Invest Atlanta for the sale of the Property
- Maximize Atlanta BeltLine TAD revenue to the City generated by this Property
Our vision for the Property
- A project design that is appropriate in and consistent with and/or an enhancement to the area around the Historic Fourth Ward Park and the nearby existing residential neighborhoods.
- A pedestrian-friendly building that relates well to the street, planned transit and other public improvements (such as trails), with setbacks which increase as building height increases
- A project that will help encourage and foster revitalization of the area.
- For projects which include multi-family rental housing elements, a minimum of 15 percent of units affordable to individuals and families earning up to 60 percent of Area Median Income (“AMI”), as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a minimum affordability period of 15 years, and for projects with owner-occupied housing elements, a minimum of 15% of for sale units affordable to individuals or families earning up to 80% of AMI (for one or two person households) and up to 100% of AMI (for households with three or more persons). The affordable, for sale housing units must also meet the HUD 203(B) purchase price limits. Fulfillment of this factor may also include an alternative proposal for the provision of a comparable number of workforce housing units
- A project which is developed so as to comply with requisite noise and vibration easements needed to facilitate the planned transit improvements.
- A project that provides the parking spaces required by the City of Atlanta building regulations, either constructed below ground or otherwise hidden from view, built to the City’s specifications. The parking needs of the building shall be provided for by the developer separate from those public spaces on site at the developer’s sole expense.
- A project that, where possible, will include a number of environmentally sensitive design features that follow Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard.