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Kirkwood apartment building would come within 5 feet of property line: proposal

Clifton Street apt, BLM

A federal judge on Wednesday vacated the CDC’s ban on coronavirus-related evictions in a case that affects only the Washington, D.C. area. Landlords who typically own smaller, older apartments will argue the same issues May 14 in federal appellate court in Atlanta. Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

A proposed apartment development in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood would come within 5 feet of a property line. Prices are not indicated for any of the 23 units that are to be provided in the development, city records show.

Clifton Street apt, BLM

The future prices are not provided in an application to renovate these eight apartments, or for the 15 new apartments a developer seeks to build around them, in Atlanta’s Kirkwood neighborhood. Credit: Kelly Jordan

Fifteen units are to be added to site where an eight-unit building is to be renovated. No additional parking is to be provided, records show.

The price for any of units, and whether they are planned for rent or sale, is not indicated in a request pending before Atlanta. The project is not subject to the city’s inclusionary zoning regulation, according to the filing.

The owner portrays the project as adding, “a much needed additional housing type within the surrounding neighborhood,” records show.

The project speaks to the development pressure in some neighborhoods, as well as the efforts of Atlanta’s City Planning department to maintain construction amid the COVID-19 economic slowdown – with the jobs and increased property tax revenues that accompany construction. The department continues to process construction proposals, as directed by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Kirkwood’s Neighborhood Planning Unit O is slated to consider the proposal at its meeting Tuesday. The NPO’s recommendation is not binding and is to travel with the request through further reviews at Atlanta City Hall.

The developer envisions a two-step process to increase density on the 0.4-acre site.

Clifton St apartments

This apartment building is to be renovated and flanked by two new apartment buildings. The density on the 0.4-acre site would rise from eight units to 23 units. Credit: Kelly jordan

The parcel is located near the southeast corner of the intersection of Hosea Williams Drive and Clifton Street, at a combined address of 8 Clifton St. and 16 Clifton St.

The site now has an eight-unit apartment building. The owner proposes to “reuse and adapt” the building. The structure is to continue to provide eight units, records show.

The two structures to be built are to “tie into” the existing building. The term does not appear to be defined. The two proposed structures are to include a three-story building with nine units, and a two-story building with six units.

The proposal was submitted by John VanVlack, on behalf of Irwin & Grape, LLC., of Decatur. The company purchased the site Nov. 10, 2015 for $249,000, according to DeKalb County tax records.

The city previously denied a building permit for the site. VanVlack submitted an application for variance and special exception. This application requests:

  • An encroachment of 15 feet into the minimum 20-foot transitional yard on the south side the property;
  • A special exception so as to not expand a parking lot provide a total of 26 parking spaces. All 23 units are use the 20 spaces that now serve the eight-unit building – 12 spaces in the off-street parking lot and eight spaces on Clifton Street, adjacent to the property;
  • An encroachment of 18 feet into the minimum 20-foot transitional yard on the east side. This encroachment now exists and the owner ask that it be allowed to continue in order to provide 12 parking spaces;
  • A special exception intended to save a tree, so that the existing driveway would not have to meet city requirements. The driveway could remain less than 12 feet wide, which is the minimum. As the application states: “Strict application of the Zoning Ordinance to require a wider driveway from Hosea Williams, NE would impact and endanger the critical root zone of a specimen tree on the neighboring property to the east of the property.”
8 Clifton Street, locator map

The density of an apartment complex in Kirkwood would nearly triple, to 23 units, under a proposal pending before Kirkwood’s NPU and Atlanta. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered

This is the description of benefits the project would bring, according to the developer’s pending request:

  • “The proposed newly constructed buildings will tie-in to and envelop the Existing Apartment Building increasing the curb appeal and connectivity to the neighborhood and providing an increased density and diversity of housing types….
  • “A grant of the requested variance would not cause substantial detriment to the public good or impair the purposes and intent of the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Atlanta. As outlined above, the proposed variance allows for the fulfillment of the purpose of providing increase [sic] density and diversity of housing types along the neighborhood commercial corridor of Kirkwood with proximity to restaurants, retail and businesses, and amenities.”


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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