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David Pendered Columns

One neighborhood’s question: How to respond to first huge proposed development

David Pendered
lynhurst, locator map Residents of the Lynhurst neighborhood, in Southwest Atlanta, are deciding if they want to support a proposed 700-unit apartment development. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered

By David Pendered

Residents of a quiet neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta have to decide if they support or oppose a proposed multi-story housing development for senior citizens, one with a density that could bring the type of life-altering effects familiar in faster-growing parts of the city.

lynhurst, locator map

Residents of the Lynhurst neighborhood, in Southwest Atlanta, are deciding if they want to support a proposed 700-unit apartment development. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered

A twist with this project is the mixture of emotions it’s elicited – a desire for development, and apprehension over the change it would bring. About 700 rental apartments are proposed in three structures, one of them standing up to 14 stories above its parking deck. The only driveway would connect to a two-lane road in which potholes are appearing just three years after the road was rebuilt with spacious sidewalks and fresh asphalt.

“The task force expressed a desire to work with the builder to make recommendations, because they are interested in seeing development – but they want to make sure it fits in with the existing community,” Eunice Glover, NPU-I chairperson, said Monday

Neighbors established a task force to consider the proposed development and present recommendations at the Sept. 16 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit I. The NPU’s recommendation will inform the Atlanta City Council’s decision on the developer’s pending request for rezoning, which is the first government hurdle the development must clear.

“They are all for the development, that’s what came out of the task force,” Glover said. “So long as it fits in with the existing properties and doesn’t create tremendous problems for the new people, as well as the homeowners who are already here.”

Specific concerns include the traffic to be created by future residents of the independent living community, plus the visual effect of the height of the three buildings. The planned structures range in height from five to seven stories, atop a two-story parking structure; eight to 10 stories; and five to 14 stories, according to the development plan filed with Atlanta’s City Planning department.

Lynhurst, Fulton County tax assessor map

The 11.8-acre site of a proposed apartment development is marked in red. The property has a house next to Lynhurst Drive and is otherwise undeveloped. Credit: Fulton County Tax Assessor

The proposed development is to be located on an 11.8-acre site at 365 Lynhurst Drive. A vacant house is the only structure on the property, almost half of which is in the 100-year floodplain of Utoy Creek, according to the site plan.

Lynhurst Drive is a tree-covered corridor two miles southeast of the I-20/I-285 interchange. Lynhurst Drive runs North/South, a half-mile inside of I-285, and connects Martin Luther King Jr. Drive with Cascade Road.

This area of Atlanta hasn’t been the site of many large developments. But they are starting to appear – houses are priced starting in “the mid $400,000s” at the new Hampton Preserve development, two miles to the east and near the renown mature forest in the city’s Lionel Hampton Park.

In terms of trees on the development site, the plan is to, “preserve a maximum number of existing trees” because 45 percent of the property is to be preserved as greenspace. The greenspace appears to be located in the 100-year floodplain of Utoy Creek, according to a site plan.

The proposed development along Lynhurst Drive is to be a rental apartment community for seniors who do not need assistance. It’s to include a commercial district with space for offices and shops, and not a grocery store. The nearest grocer is a Wayfield Foods Supermarket, a half-mile to the north.

The density would be comparable to projects along the portion of the Atlanta BeltLine in Northeast Atlanta, or in Midtown or Buckhead. A wrinkle is the high proportion of affordably priced units. The proposal calls for:

old growth forest remnant Beecher Hills, Kolb

This canopy in Lionel Hampton Beecher Hills Nature Preserve represents the canopy of Westside Atlanta, which is one of the highest-valued forests in Atlanta. File/Credit: Kathryn Kolb

  • A total of about 700 units;
  • 40% of the units are to be priced at 60 percent of area median income. This translates to monthly rents of $940 for a studio with 500 square feet, and $1,350 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit with 700 square feet;
  • Up to 50,000 square feet of commercial space, which is the size of an average Publix Super Market.

In terms of affordability, and by way of perspective, the city’s housing authority intends to provide 46% of units at up to 80 percent of area median income at Herndon Homes, according to a report last week. Atlanta Housing demolished Herndon Homes in 2010 and, in January, started construction at the site, located near Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Glover said the task force supports the notion of senior living in the neighborhood. A traffic study could speak concerns about traffic congestion at a complex that’s likely to bring more than 700 additional vehicles to the area.

“They do want to see senior homes, and do want to see just more people,” Glover said. “The concerns of the task force are, basically, about a traffic study; they did not see one and Lynhurst is one of the most beautiful streets around and we’re seeing speeding and traffic. Also, there are concerns about the fact that the buildings are so high; that was a concern.”

 

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David Pendered
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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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Kwame Carr September 1, 2020 9:08 am

    I don’t like this project. There’s already traffic at that light where the Wayfields is located and this will make it worse, plus the ugly sight of a 14 story building does not fit the environment. The location is very telling. I don’t understand building more old folks homes when there are nothing but old people living in the entire neighborhood. This sounds just like a ploy to move the elderly out of their hard earned houses, put them all in those apartments so that gentrification can continue. I wonder how many of the new residents moving into the houses on the area will also move into these apartments. This is very suspect.Report

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Giovanna September 1, 2020 1:25 pm

    This is not the type of real estate development this area needs. With the exception of existing property owners, it’s a low income area. There’s already huge apartment communities in the area with rents that top off at the same cost as the proposed development. We will support single family home developments. People, both old and young, deserve to own the home they live in. Destroying natural habitat to appease some money hungry developer isn’t the answer.Report

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Denise September 2, 2020 3:58 pm

    This is not a good idea for the neighborhood. Enough constructing buildings all over this city. We need green space to enjoy our lives. We need a beautiful park to walk to and enjoy instead of traffic jams and unsightly tall buildings.Report

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Robbie Hall September 2, 2020 5:42 pm

    I concur with above comments. This is another systemic infiltration of our community. Demand is so great for migration into our city…these same developers live on gated sprawls of land and get wealthy densely packing urban areas like sardines in a can.Report

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Maggie September 5, 2020 5:53 pm

    This street has more traffic due to this being the first street parallel to I – 285. When I – 285 is shut down, Lynhurst is shut down. I have had days where it has taken me five or more minutes to get out of my driveway. The size of this project does not fit into this neighborhood. I will support single family homes. Not the High Rise. ( A great spot for green space with walking trails.)Report

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Michelle September 16, 2020 4:22 pm

    There is too much development in Atlanta, Georgia, to satisfy greedy developers from out of town. The project on Lynhurst is not needed or welcome. There is still a tremendous amount of property that has not been developed, on the former locations of Bowen Homes and Bankhead Courts. What is to be done with those properties?
    There are many of us who have lived in Atlanta, for decades and worked hard to own property, before the population explosion. We are very disappointed to have our lives disrupted and invaded, to accommodate people from out of town. Maybe we need a different system of representation.Report

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  7. Avatar
    Tasha Walker September 25, 2020 1:31 pm

    Lies!!!! The community is 100 percent NOT in support of this development. This is just a developer coming in to take over and gentrify the neighborhood. Whomever said the community is ok with this blatantly LIED. We will fight this tooth and nail. We will challenge our public elected official to stand up for their constituents.Report

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