By Maggie Lee
Atlanta leaders broke “ground” nine stories up on Thursday, as construction ceremonially started on a new apartment building that will be atop a Downtown parking deck, and contain some apartments priced below market rate for 15 years.
“We’re being innovative, we’re being creative, we’re on top of a parking garage, we’re utilizing existing infrastructure to provide housing, and affordable housing,” said Terri Lee, the city’s chief housing officer — the point person for City Hall’s affordable housing strategy — speaking at a short ceremony for the groundbreaking.
Ascent Peachtree will bring 345 residential units to 161 Peachtree Center Avenue. Of those, 70 units will be what’s called “workforce” housing — priced so that households on the bottom half of the income ladder can afford to live there. The overall point is to make sure Atlanta’s a mixed-income city, not just a place for people who have lots of money.
In this case, for example, workforce rent for a two-bedroom apartment would come to $1,347 per month, versus $3,108 at market rate. In affordable housing jargon, that’s priced for folks who are at 80 percent of the area median income, or at about $60,000 for a family of four.
The rent figures are according to documents from Invest Atlanta, the city’s development agency. In June 2018, its board approved a property tax break for the property worth a total $5.65 million over 10 years. (Subsequently adjusted to $5.28 million.)
The deal didn’t win over the whole board back in June. The debate over three similar deals approved that day was a common one in economic development: when you give a developer some valuable incentive, is the public return worth it?
In this case, the board voted 5-2 that it was a good deal.
In 2017, Invest Atlanta’s board also granted a forgivable loan to the development of $9.1 million, contingent on the affordable housing promise. If the affordability requirements are satisfied through the 15-year term, the loan becomes a grant.
That got 4-1 board approval at the time.
The project owner is Banyan Street Capital, LLC.