Whether you are visiting Atlanta, or you are in the process of moving here, you know that cranes dot the Atlanta skyline, from Downtown through Midtown and Buckhead and out to the Perimeter. As a real estate broker, I’d like to be excited with all these new buildings…but they come with a catch. They are not FOR SALE condominiums, but are FOR RENT apartments. And not just a couple of them.
In Midtown Atlanta alone, there are 4,200 apartments under construction that will start to deliver as soon as July through the end of 2017. And that does not even count the some 7,000 more units that are proposed or in some form of development stage. That is a bonanza of apartments.
But with all this new construction, comes a challenge I already have faced when my phone rings and a potential renter contacts me about leasing a condo in Midtown. The price. It’s almost impossible to touch a 1 bedroom in Midtown for anything less than $1500 per month. New buildings going up are more than that. One leasing center I visited…the least expensive 1 bedroom starts at $1700 and they go up to $2575….for a one bedroom apartment.
This really brings into question the term of “affordable housing.” I mean, the clerks at the new QT on Peachtree Street certainly will not be making enough money to afford to live in the area.
There was an article this week in the Atlanta Business Chronicle about this very subject. It starts out by saying…
Atlanta has always been known as an affordable place to live, especially compared to cities such as New York or San Francisco, and that affordability has brought young professionals to the city in droves seeking to build their futures.
But, Atlanta’s reputation as an economical city and desirable headquarters for businesses could be in danger. Atlanta now ranks No. 3 in the country for income inequality, apartments rents are increasing rapidly and affordable housing options are drying up.
And that is really true. And when local governments realize this, then the public takes it the wrong way. Case in point is the tax allocation district (TAD) that is currently being proposed for the Assembly Doraville site. This is where the former General Motors plant was, and Integral is now trying to re-develop the site. But it needs a massive amount of infrastructure, including a connection to the Doraville MARTA station that is some 13 railroad tracks away from the actual site. As part of the agreement approved with Dekalb County (NOT the Dekalb County School Board which has consistently refused to even hear a full presentation on the development and the TAD) there was a provision to have a certain percentage of the potential housing units constructed to be made available as affordable housing. The Doraville community — well actually just some nay sayers that have no better plan than to attack the one proposed– were concerned about this housing.
Seriously people, we have to keep all people in mind, and there NEEDS to be a provision with developers to give a certain percentage of their new developments to affordable housing. It’s just that simple. At least to me.
Just as Atlanta is overlooking its severe need to expand transit, so must it not overlook that not everyone can live in the glass tower. At least not at the market rates proposed.