Some Southwest Atlantans worry a proposed residential development flanking the Beltline could spell trouble for the housing affordability in the area.
Local developer RangeWater Real Estate plans to transform the former site of a car battery plant on Allene Avenue, reinvigorating the property with more than 300 new apartments.
The property is located in Southwest Atlanta’s Capitol View neighborhood, just south of Adair Park, and some community members are concerned that the firm’s intention to include the minimum amount of affordable housing — as required by the City of Atlanta’s inclusionary zoning policies — could contribute to the gentrification of the already fast-changing Beltline corridor.
According to an application for a Special Administrative Permit — something developers need to acquire before getting the city’s green light to break ground — RangeWater aims to produce 323 residential units, 49 of which would be priced as affordable for households making 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).
In a report sent to RangeWater, the Capitol View Neighborhood Association (CVNA) said, “The current plan to provide units within the structure that are of equal quality with non-affordable units meets our concerns; however, the volume and depth of affordability planned does not.”
“We urge RangeWater to provide units at deeper levels of affordability to offset the impact its development will invariably have on the surrounding area,” the report said later. “If RangeWater is concerned that it cannot afford to set aside units with truly affordable rents, we suggest that they explore engaging with Atlanta Housing’s Housing Choice Voucher program, which would provide full fair market rent for units accepting vouchers.”
Steve Williams, a Capitol View resident, told ACC that some neighbors have also raised concerns with the density and transportation implications of the project, which would rise in a part of the community that’s largely peppered with single-family homes.
Williams said that RangeWater officials told stakeholders during a community meeting that “it would not be in the best interest of our investors” to downsize the blueprints or boost the affordable housing component, and he noted that the current plans would put a serious strain on neighboring streets.
Adair Park Today president J. Lawrence Miller told ACC in an interview that RangeWater has yet to engage his community about its development plans, and he’d also like to see tweaks to the proposal regarding traffic and affordability.
The current traffic plan calls for all vehicles to enter the complex via Metropolitan Parkway, to the east, and exit by way of Allene and Erin avenues, roads to the property’s west and south, respectively, that are lined with single-family homes where many people park their cars.
“We’ve been told there could be 400 more vehicles per day on Allene and Erin,” Miller said, adding that directing traffic to the west, where Allene ultimately crosses the Beltline, could create unsafe conditions for neighbors and people on the multi-use trail.
“Part of the danger is the traffic crossing the trail,” he added. “In an ideal world, there would be traffic-calming devices and maybe signs recommending drivers take Allene to Avon Avenue and then Sylvan road,” instead of crossing the Beltline.
Miller, like Steve Williams, said Adair Park residents are also “always concerned about affordability,” Miller said. “Single-family houses are getting out of reach.”
Miller conceded that new development and density are “critically important” to the community. “We won’t get the amenities we need over here if we don’t have density,” he added. He just hopes his neighbors get to play a role in seeing RangeWater’s plan realized.
CVNA president Iva Williams, though, said in an email to Steve Williams obtained by ACC that, “I know we were not able to get everything we wanted [from the report], but we were able to make some changes, and we are now trying to move forward.”
Although RangeWater representatives did not respond to Atlanta Civic Circle’s emailed question regarding the project timeline and the potential for tweaks to the plan, an Atlanta Business Chronicle story from October suggested the firm could break ground this spring.
RangeWater managing director Joseph Martinez did, however, provide the following statement to ACC after this story was published:
In bringing to life the Allene Avenue project, RangeWater has worked collaboratively with the neighborhood to address its concerns and make improvements to the property. Our four meetings with the Capitol View Neighborhood Association and discussions with the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Beltline and GDOT have yielded many positive changes. Based on their input, we have taken steps to alleviate traffic; reduce the building height on Allene Avenue; adjust parking lot lighting to balance safety and light pollution concerns; reduce surface parking; increase neighborhood connectivity and green space; and improve aesthetics via landscaping, public art and building materials that better tie to the existing neighborhood. RangeWater also remains committed to providing 50 affordable housing units that will serve families earning 80 percent of the area median income.
This article was updated on March 3, 2021 at 4:14 p.m. to include a statement from a RangeWater official.
(Header image, via RangeWater Real Estate: A rendering of the proposed residential complex.)