Invest Atlanta grants nearly $5 million from TAD funds
By Maggie Lee
As Atlanta reconsiders whether it wants to continue a pause on big incentives for glitzy developments, the Invest Atlanta board has spent its time this year mainly on projects to boost small business and affordable housing.
Like the $750,000 loan fund for small developers to build or renovate affordable workforce housing or neighborhood-scale commercial property in areas along Campbellton Road.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who represented the area on Atlanta City Council for eight years, said she was glad to see the loan fund happening.
“I oftentimes felt like a broken record related to Campbellton Road,” Bottoms said, from her seat as chair of the Invest Atlanta board. She pointed out that Invest Atlanta has also appointed a southside community and economic development manager.
“I’m glad we’re taking another step; there are many many miles to go,” she said.
The money comes from the Campbellton Road Tax Allocation District. That’s a special zone where Invest Atlanta borrows money, planning to pay it off with a portion of future property taxes from the zone. In the meantime, IA uses that money it has in hand to jumpstart economic development in the zone.
The IA board also unanimously approved two more small loan funds of $1 million each in the Perry-Bolton TAD and the Westside TAD.
TADs have some controversial aspects — the BeltLine TAD faltered when the Great Recession clobbered property prices. And schools and the city must wait for a tax payoff, even as public services have to be provided in TADs.
But there are TADs all over the city; one helped build Atlantic Station, for example.
Also at the Thursday meeting, the AI board approved a $1.5 million Eastside TAD grant to the Historic Oakland Foundation for works at Oakland Cemetery. The project includes renovating the Bell Tower building and rehabilitating of the southeast corner of the cemetery and reopening the East Gate.
The board members also approved several smaller grants from other funds, including $500,000 that Goodwill of North Georgia will put toward a job training center on Metropolitan Parkway. The center will commit to providing services to 7,000 job-seekers and placing 3,500 people per year, and submitting verifiable reports on that.
Also at their Thursday meeting, the IA board approved a Westside TAD grant of $500,000 to oaksATL to renovate a 15-unit apartment building where 2-bedroom apartments will rent for $625. The developer is a partner of the Peace Preparatory Academy, and they want low-cost housing in order to keep children in the same home and therefore the same school. Because switching schools too often is not good for students.
Last month, IA’s board voted a separate grant to oaksATL for another 16 similarly low-cost apartments that they intend to keep below market rates in perpetuity.
“They are committed to serving not only the parents of the school children, but the legacy residents of in English Avenue,” said Invest Atlanta board member Bill Bozarth. “And I would hope we can uncover more of these projects … so I’ll give you that challenge.”
Atlanta’s Tax Allocation Districts
Documents from Feb. 20 Invest Atlanta board meeting: