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Atlanta begins hearings on housing density as one developer offers ‘model’ project

By David Pendered

As Atlanta on Monday takes steps to increase residential density, a proposed development in Northwest Atlanta would create up to 455 dwellings on 36 acres. Supporters contend the 12-unit-per-acre project represents the city’s future in terms of density and affordability.

Carey Park, decay

A developer who has secured 147 properties plans to built up to 455 residences in the blighted Carey Park area, west of Georgia Tech. Credit: David Pendered (2018)

The two matters, though related only by timing, are part of the growing discussion over the city’s proposals on residential density.

On Monday, the residential density issue is to be discussed at 6 p.m., as part of a broader consideration of the city’s proposed five-year update of its state-mandated long-range development plan. The formal public hearing is a virtual event sponsored by the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee. The committee has scheduled a second hearing for Sept. 27. The council faces a deadline of Oct. 31 to adopt a revised long-range plan, according to the public notice.

The proposed changes to the city’s zoning residential zoning ordinances have generated a significant level of discussion since they were unveiled in December 2020. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms publicly endorsed the concepts, though she has taken a lower profile since announcing that she does not intend to seek reelection this year.

Atlanta’s City Planning Department contends the city’s preponderance of land zoned for single family houses does not meet the city’s current and future needs:

  • “This housing monoculture simply does not meet the needs of Atlanta’s diverse families – young singles, aging seniors, couples, and parents who benefit from having multigenerational family and caregivers nearby. The areas of the city with the least housing variety are also the least racially diverse. Improving housing variety may lead to increased racial diversity in neighborhoods.”
Carey Park, new development

New residences in Carey Park in 2018 indicate the market was starting to arrive in this blighted neighborhood located west of Georgia Tech. Credit: David Pendered (2018)

Under these guiding principles, major proposed changes to residential zoning codes include, and begin on Page 93 of the proposed 2021 Community Development Plan:

  • Allowing more than one dwelling to be built on land that has been zoned for one house;
  • Amending the requirement of one parking space per single family house;
  • Removing the definition of “family” from zoning codes – a family now is defined as relatives by blood, marriage or adoption, but not boarders, according to definitions in the city’s zoning code.

The proposed development in Carey Park, located west of Georgia Tech, entails rezoning and other considerations.

Plans call for 147 parcels to be rezoned and developed with a total of 400 to 455 residences. Dwellings would be in the form of single family houses, two-family houses, duplexes, multi-family, and accessory units, according to the application. The density would be just over 12 residential structures per acre. The project is on the July 8 agenda of the city’s Zoning Review Board.

The proposal comports with the city’s long-term vision of density and affordability, according to an language in the application submitted by Kronberg Urbanists + Architects:

Carey Park, rezoning

This rezoning application pending in 2018 represents market interest in developing residences in Carey Park, a blighted area located west of Georgia Tech. Credit: David Pendered (2018)

  • “The proposed development seeks to support the goals of the City of Atlanta by providing a model for creative neighborhood-scale infill through providing more affordable housing types while supporting existing neighborhood character….
  • “This project aims to serve as a model for supporting city and neighborhood goals of diverse, affordable, context-sensitive housing.”

The developer intends to seek financing from Invest Atlanta. The developer plans to ask for a tax abatement that would waive 50% of property taxes in the first year. Payments would ramp up by 5% a year until full taxes are due in year 11, according to the program description provided by Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm.

Note to readers: The public hearing on the proposed revision of Atlanta’s state-mandated Comprehensive Development Plan is set for Monday at 6 p.m. Details on the virtual meeting are available here. The deadline for public comment is Sunday at 7 p.m.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. Sad to see them go June 29, 2021 9:54 am

    And absolutely no mention as to how short-term rentals (eg AirBnB) remove otherwise ‘affordable housing’ from the long-term rental market. Recently there have been numerous articles and podcasts ( Marketplace, Bloomberg) on private equity / hedge funds / similar deep pockets salivating to scoop up large swaths of housing stock for the short-term rental cash cow once the eviction moratorium is lifted. Atlanta neighborhoods are suffering this already; one AirBnB house on my street went from a local owner (who purchased an owner occupied home specifically to convert to short-term rental) to now “corporate” owned – and now neighbors cannot find anyone responsible for the property to complain to about out of control guests. The flood of corporate cash poised for rental house take-over is only going to fuel both loss of affordable housing and gentrification from medium value to low value rental neighborhoods as renters get pushed further afield. If the City and its Leaders actually gave a crap about its residents who cannot afford the median rate of $1,800/month for a one-bedroom , they’d address the loss of affordable units to the short-term rental market. But i suspect they honestly do not; just like they never lifted a finger to assist elderly residents taxed out of their homes during the housing boom after the Olympics.Report

  2. Dana Blankenhorn June 29, 2021 10:23 am

    Atlanta will become Detroit if its majority is poor. Those in power like that, at both the local and state level. Economics says otherwise.

    We are also becoming a heat sink as every tree and blade of grass is plowed under for concrete.Report


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