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Hundreds of acres of city land identified for affordable housing development

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Atlanta officials have identified almost five Piedmont Parks worth of public land that could someday spawn thousands — or possibly tens of thousands — of affordable housing units.

As part of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ One Atlanta Affordability Action Plan, the city’s planning department inventoried 877 acres of public property around town “that we can utilize as we work to increase affordable and workforce housing in Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a prepared statement. 

All that land, scattered across 490 parcels around town, represents what Bottoms is calling a “substantial, largely untapped tool” in her crusade for housing affordability — a mission she made the centerpiece of her 2017 mayoral campaign. 

Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland told Atlanta Civic Circle that he anticipates these nearly 900 acres “could have the potential to generate tens of thousands of affordable units.”

A map of the publicly owned land identified by the city. (Credit: City of Atlanta)

That work has already started. The city is currently moving forward with the development of four of the parcels identified. 

On Tuesday, the city council’s Community Development and Human Services committee, which Westmoreland chairs, approved ordinances that green-light the redevelopment of three single-family properties in southwest Atlanta and an apartment building downtown. That legislation is expected to go to a full-council vote on Monday. 

It’s too soon to say exactly how affordable the units at those four properties — or the hundreds of others — could be, relative to the area median income (AMI). In fact, there will likely be some market-rate units sprinkled into the upcoming developments — part of an effort to create mixed-income communities and avoid concentrating poverty in certain areas — Westmoreland said. 

Still, he added, it’s crucial to the fight for housing affordability that the city government controls all this property. “When you control the land, you get to control the depth and length of affordability at those places,” Westmoreland said. 

Said Bottoms, per the statement: “The activation of public land complements efforts already underway and will help maintain Atlanta’s economic diversity and ensure long-term affordability for our residents.”

(Header image, via Sean Keenan: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for an affordable housing complex in Old Fourth Ward.)

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