By Sean Keenan
A new residential development planted just blocks from the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail recently began welcoming its first residents, and more are on the way from nonprofit City of Refuge’s philanthropic programs.
A few weeks ago, the first 15 families moved their belongings into The 1300, a 47-unit development packed with affordable housing and neighboring City of Refuge’s campus on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard.
Developed by North American Properties, and with the pro bono legal help of local firm Nelson Mullins and support from City of Refuge and Westside Future Fund, the new complex replaced a languishing apartment community that was razed by the development team about three years ago.
But, while other such developers might thoughtlessly displace longtime tenants at the properties they bulldoze, City of Refuge CEO Bruce Deel said this team ensured “displacement with dignity.”
Before leveling the aging complex, Deel and his troops hosted a dinner for the roughly 20 households living there, he told SaportaReport in a recent interview. Then, they paid them each $1,000 for deposits for new apartments, $500 to help them with utilities and $250 a month for up to a year if their rent increased when they moved somewhere else.
Now, some of those tenants who were “displaced with dignity” are headed back home, to The 1300, Deel said.
Of the 47 units, 24 are three-bedrooms and 23 are two-bedrooms, most of which are priced as affordable at 60 percent of the market-rate units. That means the affordable units run between $570 and $660.
City of Refuge controls the master lease for 15 of those units, which will be rented to former residents, program graduates and nonprofit staff, and Westside Future fund is responsible for leasing the rest to applicants of its Home on the Westside program.
The property has also been approved for Housing Choice vouchers from Atlanta Housing.
And with close proximity to City of Refuge’s Westside campus, these tenants are all getting more than just a roof above their heads; they also have easy access to the nonprofit’s healthcare, mental health, vision, dental, childcare and vocational training services.
The Westside campus also houses up to 150 homeless women and children at any given time, and many of them are going through the application process to get into The 1300.
“The majority of the first 15 units were graduates from one of our programs,” Deel said.
Nelson Mullins partner Andy Litvak told SaportaReport that he thinks The 1300 — an affordability-focused mixed-use — could serve as a model for developments to come. Plus, he added, the new construction, complemented by wraparound services, could spur more development activity in the area.
“Retail follows rooftops,” he said. “If you can plant the seeds and grow the roots, the community will flourish.”
(Header image, via City of Refuge: The new complex, across the street from the nonprofit’s Westside campus.)
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