Partnerships, inclusionary zoning and innovative funding sources create progress toward creating and preserving affordable residences along the BeltLine
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) surpassed its annual affordable housing goal in the first four months of the year, marking a major affordable housing milestone.
As of April 2022, 373 units of affordable housing have been created or preserved within the BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD), surpassing the annual goal of 320 for the year. This includes 250 units at Skyline Apartments, which broke ground in March, and 123 units attributed to the City of Atlanta’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that have been announced this year. That’s 53 units over goal so far.
“I set an ambitious goal of building or preserving 20,000 affordable units in Atlanta because there is an urgent and immediate need for quality, affordable housing in Atlanta,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. “This accelerated progress, thanks to the deep commitment of the Atlanta BeltLine team and our public and private partners, is a great milestone on our way to reaching our shared goals.”
Affordability is a key component of ABI’s commitment to ensuring all residents can benefit from the activities and growth associated with the Atlanta BeltLine. While housing prices have been on the rise across metro Atlanta, the BeltLine’s affordable housing options have been increasing, too.
“Getting these results so early in the year is thanks to concerted, coordinated efforts across multiple agencies,” said Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Clyde Higgs. “We’re 55.3 percent of the way toward meeting our affordable housing goal of 5,600 units by 2030. And there’s more to come in 2022. We’re celebrating major milestones for the BeltLine, including receiving new federal and philanthropic funding sources which mean will complete construction of the BeltLine trail by 2030 as well.”
While not a housing agency, ABI works closely with multiple partners to achieve affordable housing goals and provides capital to development projects that create affordable housing and commercial affordability within the BeltLine TAD. ABI, in partnership with Invest Atlanta, administers the Atlanta BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund (BAHTF) and BeltLine TAD excess increment fund for these purposes. The BAHTF can contribute up to $2 million per development.
ABI’s housing production partners include the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing, Development Authority of Fulton County, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“Partnerships, multiple strategies, and our own funding sources are helping us tackle our affordable housing goals,” said Dennis E. Richards Jr., Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s Vice President, Housing Policy & Development. “And what’s exciting is we anticipate several more communities will be announced in 2022.”
One way the BeltLine is seeing more affordability created is through the City of Atlanta’s first Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) ordinances. The legislation, sponsored by then Councilmember Andre Dickens, now Atlanta’s mayor, and championed by other city leadership, went into effect in January 2018. It requires multi-family residential developers to set aside a certain number rental units for renters making 60-80 percent of our Area Median Income (AMI). It applies to all multifamily rental developments with at least 10 units in the BeltLine Overlay District, the Westside Overlay District and the Westside Park Affordable Housing District. As a result of the ordinance, developers must make a certain percentage of their market rate units available at affordable rental rates, based on Area Median Income.
Since then, with 35 projects either completed, under construction or in development in those zones, the inclusionary zoning ordinance has currently generated 781 affordable housing units, according to data from Atlanta’s Office of Housing and Community Development. And of these 35 developments, all but three are in BeltLine overlay districts.
“This tells me that all of the thought and planning we’re putting into meeting the affordable housing goal is yielding results,” added Richards. “We’re anticipating two more projects will get announced soon – 1095 Tucker and 1055 Arden – both affordable projects that will benefit from BeltLine funding sources.”
The BeltLine and its nonprofit counterpart, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP), are also focused on anti-displacement programming, establishing the Legacy Resident Retention Program (LRRP). This program provides financial assistance to cover property tax increases for qualifying homeowners financially burdened by significant property tax increases.
Additionally, ABI’s strategy to acquire land will enable the creation and preservation of affordable housing units and further commercial affordability, business development, greenspace, connectivity, and more.
Other notable affordable housing milestones being celebrated in 2022 by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and partners:
- March 22: Skyline Apartments broke ground along the Southside Trail in Peoplestown, with a $2 million contribution from Atlanta BeltLine with 250 affordable units.
- May 18: 55 Milton, located at 55 Milton Avenue in Peoplestown, celebrated its grand opening. People already have filled up the wait list for the 156 affordable apartments. BAHTF contributed $2 million to this project, led by Prestwick Development Company. This alongside a tax-exempt loan from Invest Atlanta’s Urban Residential Finance Authority, as well as funds from Partners for Home, project-based vouchers from Atlanta Housing, a tax credit allocation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and additional funding from Truist Community Capital and Grandbridge helped fund the project.
- June 1: Parkside in Bankhead/Historic Westin Heights, celebrated the ribbon cutting on its 182-unit community, which is now leasing.
INCLUSIONARY ZONING TAKING EFFECT
These market rate properties in the BeltLine Overlay District include affordable units thanks to inclusionary zoning:
- Link Apartments (730 Glenwood Ave, NE): 38 affordable units at 80% AMI
- The Maverick, Phase I (72 Milton Ave, SE): 48 affordable units at 80% AMI
- The Maverick, Phase II (72 Milton Ave, SE): 17 affordable units at 80% AMI (under construction)
- The Skylark (1099 Boulevard, SE): 48 affordable units at 80% AMI
- Alton East (777 Memorial Drive #7000): 38 units at 80% AMI
- Aspire Westside (900 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd): 26 units at 80% AMI
- Verge Apartments (125 Milton Ave): 47 units at 80% AMI (under construction)
- Novel West Midtown (1330 Fairmont Ave): 34 units at 60% AMI (under construction)
- Fairfield Piedmont (1944 Piedmont Ave): 59 units at 60% AMI (under construction)