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New modular construction bringing affordable housing to the Westside

Sean Keenan

By Sean Keenan

If you happened upon a house floating through the air on Atlanta’s Westside this morning, worry not; that’s just part of a new affordable housing push by developer Place Properties.

Homeplace Solutions, a division of Place Properties, today set down a new modular home at 341 Sunset Avenue, where English Avenue meets Vine City.

That means the house was built somewhere off-site — in this case, in North Carolina — and shuttled down to Atlanta on a flatbed truck.

Modular construction, according to Place Properties CEO Cecil Phillips, is more efficient than conventional construction because it’s cheaper and faster to build. That, he told SaportaReport, is why taking that route is a viable way to combat Atlanta’s housing affordability crisis.

The new houses the developer is plopping down in English Avenue and Vine City are expected to help fill the gap of middle-income housing in the community. The Sunset Avenue project is the first of five planned in the area.

“The affordable housing crisis is the only one I know that’s not a creature of the politicians or the press; it’s genuine,” Phillips said. “Everything we read and see shows that for the missing [middle-income] — the people who do the heavy lifting in our country, making between $35,000 and $80,000 a year — it’s very, very difficult [to find a place to live that’s close to work].”

The Sunset Avenue home costs about $140,000, Phillips said, noting that once it’s set on the site, it’s virtually move-in ready. The most expensive of the five is a three-bed, two-bath planned for nearby worth about $210,000.

The City of Atlanta’s economic development arm Invest Atlanta, which owns the property, hasn’t yet determined whether the new modular homes will be for sale or rent, but the goal is to ultimately provide housing that’s affordable for the city’s police, firefighters, teachers, hospital workers, and others employed here but find it tough to find an affordable place to live.

Invest Atlanta representatives have not yet responded to a request for comment about the project, and this story should be updated if quotes are provided.

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown, who represents the district in which these new homes are being installed, told SaportaReport in an email that’s he’s “a huge proponent for modular development as a solution towards affordable housing.”

“We have to create opportunities that will deter displacement as land value continues to rise,” he said. “In my district specifically, with the new stadium being built, you now have $250,000 to $350,000 homes being built in area where the area median income is less than $19,000 a year, where poverty is at an all-time high, with folks not even being to afford to rent in these communities.”

Place Properties’ latest endeavor aims to combat that displacement, Phillips said.

“This neighborhood is the one most likely to benefit from a rapid redevelopment because of its proximity to downtown, but we have to be very careful; we can’t just start tearing things down to develop 12- or 15-story apartment buildings. We’re very purposeful and focused on making sure that where we put our houses — on either empty lots or condemned lots — aren’t displacing people,” he said.

All five new modular homes are expected to be placed and resident-ready by the end of February, Phillips said.

This story was updated for clarity.

(Header image by Lydia Mayfield Photography)

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Lucy January 22, 2020 8:10 am

    This appears to be neither modular (just pre-fab) nor “missing middle,” which refers to the duplexes, triplexes, and quads that are generally missing (and purposely excluded by people who are obsessed with single-family homes as a way of keeping housing prices out of reach for the groups that you describe) from Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods today. These small multifamily buildings used to be more common and many have been demolished for oversized, overpriced, single-family McMansions that don’t fit in with their context.

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