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East Lake developer sent back to drawing board for more affordable apartments

Sketch of proposed TAMA Glenwood development in East Lake

A sketch of the Tama Glenwood development (Special)

Sketch of proposed Tama Glenwood development. Credit: Special

By Maggie Lee

A would-be developer wants to offer a discount on 39 apartments in an 230-unit building in East Lake for 10 years — in exchange for a tax break worth $2.6 million over a decade. But with proposed below-market-rate rents at Tama Glenwood still as high as $1,600, an Atlanta board says “try again.”

“As it stands today, I don’t think that this is in keeping with what we have been delivering and what we have been promising to deliver to the community,” said Randy Hazleton, a member of the board of Invest Atlanta, the city’s development authority, at its Thursday meeting.

The board voted 7-2 to put Perennial Properties’ request for a Tama Glenwood tax break on hold for this month’s meeting.

The development is planned for a long-vacant plot by the East Lake Publix and is part of an overarching vision of “transformation” both north and south of Glenwood Road that started in the 1990s with developer Tom Cousins. It included the controversial redevelopment of the troubled East Lake Meadows housing project.

“When you look at the overall inventory for the East Lake initiative [on both sides of Glenwood] … we’re north of 40% affordability all across the mix,” said Daniel Shoy, president and CEO of the East Lake Foundation, a nonprofit that’s one of Cousins’ legacies.

“So we hope that that’s the context that you will continue to think about this in, and not look at the Perennial development, which we are supportive of, as a standalone,” Shoy said.

If rent stayed the same for 10 years, Perennial would forego about $1.1 million in rent over 10 years in exchange for the $2.6 million property tax break over the same time. But Perennial told Invest Atlanta that it was really going to forego $2.1 million in rent over 10 years, because it can’t raise rents as rapidly on subsidized apartments as market rate ones.

Developers can and do get various kinds of tax breaks and incentives from cities, counties and the state in exchange for building apartments that are within the reach of families on the bottom half of the income ladder.

But in metro Atlanta, the definition of “affordable” housing can include rents as high as about $1,800 for a family of four and can apply to such a family making as little as zero and as much as $82,700.

Rents at Tama Glenwood would start at as little as $1,105 for a subsidized one-bedroom unit and go as high as $2,100 for a non-subsidized three-bedroom unit.

Read about how “affordable” rents are calculated and see 2020 median income for metro Atlanta.


Tama Glenwood fact sheet from Invest Atlanta

Cousins Family Foundation letter in support of Tama Glenwood

East Lake Foundation letter in support of Tama Glenwood

Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008.


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