Westside Atlanta Growth Creates Unique Development Opportunity Close to Transit
MARTA announces a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Request for Proposals (RFP) for Bankhead rail station, the western terminus of the Green Line. The State of Georgia’s recent $6 million allocation to help transform the station, and tech giant Microsoft’s decision to build one of its largest hubs nearby illustrate the economic development potential of the area, and the important role transit plays in that growth.
The Bankhead TOD will be located on just under five-and-a-half acres of land, along with air-rights above the station itself, which sits at 1335 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. The rail station is adjacent to the Microsoft proposed 90-acre campus development and is a half-mile southeast of the newly opened Westside Park. Other nearby development includes the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail and the Proctor Creek Greenway in the historic Grove Park community.
To further support the type of mixed-use density that defines successful TODs, MARTA is seeking a zoning change for the station, from Mixed Residential Commercial District 1 (MRC-1), Heavy Industrial District 2 (I-20), and Single-Family Residential District (RA4), to Mixed Residential Commercial District 3 (MRC-3). This aligns with the zoning applied to the Microsoft property and the zoning presented in the City of Atlanta’s Transit-Oriented Development Plan, which recommends that nine of MARTA’s rail stations undergo a proactive rezoning to support higher density at transit stations. Atlanta City Councilmember Dustin Hillis sponsored the rezoning legislation in September 2021 and MARTA has met with various community groups and Neighborhood Planning Units (NPUs) in the area as part of the rezoning process with the anticipation of going before the Atlanta City Council for approval in March.
“Bankhead Station is in a part of Atlanta that is undergoing significant growth and land use changes. Our rezoning efforts with the City and the station’s location within a Federal Opportunity Zone make this TOD an incredible opportunity to provide affordable housing and other community amenities convenient to transit,” said MARTA Interim General Manager Collie Greenwood.
The Federal Opportunity Zone Program supports the stimulation of economic development and job creation by incentivizing long term investments in low-income neighborhoods. Bankhead Station’s location within one of Atlanta’s 26 such zones, combined with MARTA’s commitment to providing a deeper affordability ensures that 30 percent of residential units included in the TOD be made available for people earning 80 to 120 percent of the Area Median Household Income by Zip Code. The other rail stations located in Federal Opportunity Zones include Five Points, Vine City, Ashby, H.E. Holmes, West End, and Lakewood/Fort McPherson.
In response to community concerns over displacement caused by new growth in the region, MARTA and Morgan Stanley Community Development Finance and its Partner the National Equity Fund established a $100 million fund to preserve existing affordable units around heavy rail stations and the Atlanta Streetcar. Further, to bring more affordable housing and Federal Opportunity Zone capital to bear on new ground-up development of TODs, MARTA recently partnered with Goldman Sachs on a $100 million affordable housing TOD initiative. Developers proposing on the Bankhead Station TOD will have more options of capital sources for their proposed projects.
“This allows MARTA to deliver the housing affordability desired by the surrounding community and meet the City of Atlanta’s affordable housing goals as well as meet and exceed our own,” added Greenwood. “We are eager to see the proposals for this unique site as we undergo our own transformative work planned for Bankhead Station.”
The Bankhead Station transformation project is part of MARTA 2040, a decades-long several billion-dollar transit improvement and expansion program. The project includes a platform extension from two-car to eight-car capacity (matching the capacity of the other 37 rail stations), and other modifications necessary to accommodate the subsequent increase in rail cars and customers. Last year the Georgia General Assembly approved a $6 million appropriation toward the transformation of Bankhead Station, in support of the economic development taking place in surrounding areas.
As with all its TODs, MARTA will undertake a robust community engagement process to share information about the project and upcoming station transformation. The Bankhead TOD RFP process will span the next few months, with a pre-proposal conference and question and answer session scheduled this month, and proposals due mid-April.
Learn more about all of MARTA’s transit-oriented development at MARTA (itsmarta.com).