By David Pendered

To encourage construction of apartment buildings near some MARTA rail stations, Atlanta is considering a proposal to allow apartments and condos to be built on more than 1,800 parcels of land now reserved for houses, duplexes and small multifamily structures.

MARTA’s King Memorial Station has not served as the center of residential development transit advocates have anticipated. Credit: Kelly Jordan
MARTA’s King Memorial Station has not served as the center of residential development transit advocates have anticipated. Credit: Kelly Jordan

One example, chosen at random from the list included with the legislation (21-O-0455), is located in Inman Park. The house is within walking distance of the Inman Park/Reynoldstown station. Under the proposal, the land use designation for the parcel would be shifted to one that allows for structures that generally are up to four stories high to be built with apartments, condos and lofts. These dwellings would help raise the number of dwellings in the city, which is the purpose of the program.

This parcel, at 1021 Euclid Ave., includes a lot of 7,304 square feet, which is 0.17 acres. The house was built in 1920, was effectively rebuilt in 2015, and has 3,513 square feet of living area. The property sold in 2018 for $1.25 million, according to Fulton County tax records.

Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi introduced the proposal to promote residential density near MARTA stations on July 6. The measure would not rezone property, a step that is required to enable construction of an apartment building on land now zoned for a house.

The proposal does aim to establish the legal foundation for rezoning property for denser residential development by altering the city’s document that guides land use in the city – the 2016 Comprehensive Development Plan. Farokhi’s legislation would eliminate the potential, future hurdle of changing the CDP to build additional dwellings on the 0.17-acre site.

Enticing developers to build near MARTA rail stations is not always easy. No developer offered to buy this surplus MARTA land at the Oakland City Station, despite big inducments offered by MARTA. Credit: MARTA

The legislation does not identify the MARTA stations that are to be flanked by the parcels cited in the paper.

Meantime, the 2016 CDP – the document Farokhi intends to amend – is undergoing a major revision. The council is slated to adopt the new version in October.

The draft CDP contains a number of revisions similar in purpose to the ones Farokhi has suggested. In total, they aim to increase residential density in the city. One proposed method is to increase the number of dwelling on parcels now reserved for one house.

More than 1,000 callers registered their opinion about the draft CDP before a June 28 public hearing. A second hearing is set for Sept. 27.

Farokhi’s proposal is slated for discussion during Tuesday’s meeting of the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee.

City records indicate Farokhi’s paper had been referred to a committee he chairs, the Zoning Committee. However, the paper does not appear on the Zoning Committee’s agenda for Monday’s meeting and does appear on the agenda of the CDHS Committee.

The purpose of the proposal is presented in everyday language:

  • “WHEREAS, there are a large number of parcels near high-capacity transit stations that are designated for single-family residential and low-density residential future land uses; and …
  • “WHEREAS, in order to fully leverage investment in public transit, areas near transit should deliver more housing in a variety of types and price points….
MARTA’s Midtown Station is said to be surrounded by the greatest concentration of dwellings of all the rail stations. Credit: Kelly Jordan
MARTA’s Midtown Station is said to be surrounded by the greatest concentration of dwellings of all the rail stations. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Likewise, definitions of the categories that are to be changed are straightforward. The majority of changes would shift land use from low density residential to medium density residential. The definitions provided in the 2016 CDP state:

  • “Low Density Residential: This residential designation consists primarily of detached single family homes, duplexes, triplexes, quadruplex, townhomes, and small multifamily developments. Building height primarily is up to 3 stories. 7% of the City has a Low Density Residential land use designation.
  • “Medium Density Residential: This residential category consists of the residential uses included in single family and low density residential land uses as well as duplexes, triplexes, quadruple, townhomes and multifamily units such as apartments, condos and lofts. Building heights are primarily up to 4 stories. 5% of the City has a Medium Density Residential land use designation.”

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...

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  1. Gentrification at its best. Where will the current residents be relocated? Most low income people cannot get a mortgage for a condo. Carpet baggers low balling current homeowners. Colonizers moving in then will vote to become their own city. Atlanta you better wake up

  2. Central cities must have a majority of upper middle-income voters because our infrastructure is older and requires mroe maintenance. Sad, but true. But cutting down trees and replacing it with cement doesn’t do that. Quite the opposite

  3. I believe this article is in error. Councilmember Farokhi has submitted three proposed ordinances that encourage small multifamily structures. 21-O-0454 rezones ~2,200 parcels. 21-O-0455 amends the CDP for those same parcels. 21-O-0456 amends the zoning code for MR-MU which are limited to THREE stories and a maximum of FOUR units. This article’s use of “apartments, condos, and lofts” specifically in opposition to “houses, duplexes, and small multifamily structures” implies a more radical change in current land use.

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