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David Pendered

BeltLine: Construction returns as advisory group ponders equity issues

By David Pendered

This story has been updated with the square footage of commercial uses being built in Ponce City Market, the correct name of Atlanta’s Office of Planning, and a corrected chart of construction activity.

A new report shows that construction activity along the Atlanta BeltLine is trending upward after a stark decline during the recession.

A new apartment complex is being built along Huff Road, near the iconic Forsyth Fabrics. Credit: David Pendered

A new apartment complex is being built along Huff Road, near the iconic Forsyth Fabrics. Credit: David Pendered

Fourteen projects were under construction in 2012. That compares to four projects in 2011, three in 2010, and nine in 2009. There were 31 projects being built in 2008, according to the new report from the city’s Office of Planning.

The concentration of development in northeast Atlanta – half the projects being built last year were in the Freedom Parkway subarea – speaks to the issue of equitable development, which is the subject of an advisory group that’s to meet Friday.

A total of 1,485 homes were under construction in 2012, according to the city’s new report. They were being built as townhomes and apartments, either free-standing or as part of cluster of residential and commercial uses on one site.

The projects ranged in size from 41 units, in Ansley Parkside Townhomes on Monroe Drive, to 305 units, in the AMLI Apartments development on North Avenue.

Five of the 14 projects include commercial space. They range from 11,005 square feet, on 14th Street, to about 50,000 square feet, at a medical office building near Piedmont Hospital.

The trend line is moving up for housing starts along the BeltLine. Credit: Atlanta Bureau of Planning

The trend line is moving up for housing starts along the BeltLine. Credit: Atlanta Office of Planning

In addition, Ponce City Market has 250 homes and about 750,000 square feet of commercial space in its planned renovation of the former City Hall East, according to the developer, Jamestown Properties. The commercial portion includes about 441,000 square feet of office space and about 310,000 square feet of retail space.

Ten of the projects were in the BeltLine tax allocation district. The others were just outside the TAD, but within the BeltLine’s planning area, which extends a half-mile on each side of the 22-mile rail corridor.

TADs are special tax districts where public improvements, such as parks, are paid for with the increment of property taxes collected on new development within the TAD.

The concentration of development in northeast Atlanta is a concern for some city policy makers. They want to ensure that the $20 billion in development expected along the BeltLine is spread across all of the BeltLine, and not concentrated in the northern areas of Atlanta.

Commercial construction along the BeltLine includes this medical office building, on Peachtree Street near Piedmont Hospital. Credit: David Pendered

Commercial construction along the BeltLine includes this medical office building, on Peachtree Street near Piedmont Hospital. Credit: David Pendered

An advisory group that’s devising an equitable development plan is slated to meet Friday. One main topic of conversation is to be the development of baseline materials that Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. can use in developing the BeltLine’s core amenities, recruiting economic development, leveraging existing neighborhood assets, and others, according to the 22-page economic development plan.

The group faces difficulties in gathering information to create the baseline report, according to a presentation prepared in January.

A central challenge is the lack of information that’s crunched down to the neighborhood level. The consulting group hired last autumn is preparing to recommend the baseline be drafted from sources such as the Census, research companies that work in the housing industry, National Community Stabilization Trust, Georgia Department of Public Health, and the U.S. departments of agriculture and labor.

New townhomes are being finished at Reserve at City Park, located off 26th Street in Buckhead. Credit: David Pendered

New townhomes are being finished at Reserve at City Park, located off 26th Street in Buckhead. Credit: David Pendered

Another of the group’s challenges is the lack of development along the BeltLine, according to one report. With only limited development to track, it’s hard to determine what constitutes equitable development.

The city’s new report on housing starts along the BeltLine suggests development is returning to the BeltLine corridor, as it is returning elsewhere in the region.

New home starts in metro Atlanta were up by 50 percent in 2012, compared to 2011, according to reports by Metrostudy, a research company that specializes in the housing industry.

Metrostudy’s recent reports put Atlanta – finally – in the basket of regions in which housing seems to have stabilized. Nationwise, starts are up almost 30 percent, and some regions recorded increases of 60 percent or more, including Boise; St. George, Utah; Phoenix; Las Vegas; and northern California, according to Metrostudy data cited in a story last week in buildineronline.com.


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. JinGP February 26, 2013 10:46 am

    Thanks for addressing this issue.  I hope this advisory group isn’t just a ploy to say they tried.  I worry that the TIA proposed streetcar lines are the true intentions of some, and will be constructed under the guise of the Beltline – some Beltline sections (NW and SE) will be put on the back burner because of it.  I hope I am wrong.
    I’d really like to see the entire 22-mile loop acquired and developed minimally as a pedestrian/cyclist path before any transit occurs along the Beltline.  Equity will be an issue otherwise.Report

  2. Burroughston Broch February 26, 2013 11:48 am

    If Beltway proponents want to stunt its growth, this is the path to take.
    If one wants to build along the NE Beltway and is told they must build in the SW to make the Beltway appear more “equitable”, then they will not build.Report

    1. Wood February 27, 2013 9:48 am

      @Burroughston Broch What’s the “Beltway?”Report

  3. RickStevens February 26, 2013 12:57 pm

    No one wants to live in Bankhead, thus no development.  The east side of Atlanta is the best part of the city, BY FAR, halting development for ‘equity’ is dumb.Report

  4. Firefly7071 February 26, 2013 2:21 pm

    As we continue past the O4W & Inman Park we are heading into Grant Park, Pittsburg, Oakland City, there will be slowing.  the problem is crime.  It is what it is.  When you concentrate poverty into large sections of a city, that is what you get.  East Atlanta, Grant Park get hit hard every weekend.  If you want the beltline to succeed in high crime areas, the police NEED to get on top of it.  There has already been a armed mugging right in Inman Park on the Beltline.  The police have to stop this. We all want it to succeed!!! Knight Park would be an awesome place to live right near the proposed huge park they want to built.  Yeah, crime is insane there, but look at the location.  Really easy access to downtown.Report

    1. JinGP February 26, 2013 9:35 pm

      Who is “we”? What is coming into Grant Park?
      Also, your perception of the crime in East Atlanta and Grant Park isn’t justified if we are comparing it against the ‘hoods along the Eastside Trail.Report

  5. jESSEE JACKSON eLK hEAD February 26, 2013 2:56 pm

    “equitable development” what a load of BS. Let developers build what they want, we don’t need  more takers and poor people around, they drag down the whole areaReport

    1. Wood February 27, 2013 9:47 am

      @jESSEE JACKSON eLK hEAD Oh lord I hope you’re jokingReport

  6. leadbelly February 26, 2013 8:36 pm

    Promote development in the NE and take the increment to develop amenities in the SE and SW while waiting for transit to be built. That will drive building more than hand wringing as developers match consumer need to product. The error is to assume you can force development to happen all over and all at the same time. Some areas will quite naturally take longer than others.Report

    1. The Last Democrat in Georgia February 27, 2013 7:43 am

       Excellent points.  You can’t force people to do business in places where they don’t want to do business.
      When developers feel they are ready to do business in the places that the city wants to try and push them to, the developers will do business there, but not until then.
      If the city tries to limit the amount of development in the Northeast quadrant of the Beltline then it may limit development on the Beltline as a whole.
      When development becomes too concentrated and land prices become too high in the areas in which there is now currently the most interest, developers will automatically shift their focus to other parts of the Beltline along with demand from real estate consumers, but it will take time as we are talking about a period of at-least between 10-25 years, and possibly up to 50 years (NOT merely just inside of 10 years), for this entire market process to shakeout.
      Per traditional Atlanta land spectulation and real estate development practice, “If you build it, they will come”.
      Well, the groundbreaking Atlanta Beltline is being built and the very first-wave of land spectulators, real estate developers and real estate developers have come, with plenty more that are on the way.
      Patience, my friends, patience.  The development will come along with the demand, which is building slowly, but surely.Report

  7. Hill Roge March 5, 2013 1:53 am

    thanks for posting this information it might be the right thing which i was finding. i am also related to a construction industry..Report


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