Westside, Atlanta development emblematic of density debate – Atlanta Business Chronicle – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Discussion surrounding a proposed mixed-use development near Georgia Tech is emblematic of a debate that will define Atlanta in the near and long term.
At issue, how can the city densify while maintaining the character of its historic single-family neighborhoods?
Falcon View Properties hopes to construct a four-story building with 34 apartments and 1,200 square feet of commercial space at the corner of 10th and Curran streets in Home Park. To move forward, Falcon View must receive approval from the City of Atlanta to rezone the property from two-family residential to mixed residential and commercial.
The Atlanta City Council ultimately will decide whether to approve Falcon View’s application. The city council will take into consideration recommendations from the Home Park Community Improvement Association, the local neighborhood planning unit and the city’s Zoning Review Board.
Falcon View hit a snag in the first step of the rezoning process. The neighborhood association split its vote on whether to recommend rezoning. Falcon View has twice deferred its presentation before Neighborhood Planning Unit-E.
Opposition to the development comes from residents who are concerned it would harm the single-family residential fabric of the neighborhood, according to Praxis3 Principal David Hamilton, who is representing Falcon View in the rezoning process and whose architecture firm is designing the proposed development. Home Park Community Improvement Association President Kathy Boehmer did not respond to a request for comment.
The development would rise within the 10th Street corridor, across from Georgia Tech’s campus. Falcon View owns the property, which is the site of four single-family homes that are typically rented out to college students, according to Hamilton. There are numerous multi-level buildings in the area, and Falcon View believes its project would be an example of growth the Atlanta City Planning Department desires.
“The corridors are a place for density,” Hamilton told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Because it’s close to a neighborhood, I think a three- or four-story building would be perfectly appropriate.”
In its Atlanta City Design Housing report published earlier this year, the planning department identified urban and commercial corridors throughout the city where there is “significant room for additional residential density.” Home Park is within these growth areas.
The most significant policy proposal included in the housing report was the elimination of single-family zoning in Atlanta.
The planning department has since backed off a push for such legislation following some loud objection from residents, but Councilmember Amir Farokhi in June introduced legislation that would relax zoning codes to allow for small apartment buildings in single-family neighborhoods. The planning department is in the process of presenting the legislation before all of the neighborhood planning units, and the city council is scheduled to vote on the proposed reforms later this year, after Atlanta’s mayoral and council elections.
Councilmember Antonio Brown, who represents Home Park and is running for mayor, has expressed some support for densifying neighborhoods. However, he said a mixed-use development would be difficult at the proposed location due to already congested street parking. Brown added that individual communities “should be able to determine what density looks like in their neighborhood.”
“This is incredibly important as we move further into the discussion around the rezoning and CDP legislation moving through council,” he told the Chronicle. “We can’t build density that will compromise the character of a neighborhood. It must compliment the community.
“I’m not solely for single-family and believe there are duplex and townhome designs concepts that could fit nicely in Home Park, as there already are.”
Proponents of increased density say it would boost affordability at a time when the cost to live in Atlanta is rising rapidly, and when major corporations such as Microsoft are set to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the city.
But increasing density in and around single-family neighborhoods might not come easy.
Leaders and residents in Buckhead have voiced the loudest opposition to zoning reform, but opponents from Atlanta’s wealthiest district are not the only ones to push back. Proposed housing developments that would increase density have received pushback in neighborhoods such as East Atlanta and Howell Station.
Falcon View’s plans call for a variety of units in the building, according to its rezoning application. Apartments would range from 350-square-foot studios renting for $1,095 per month to 1,223-square-foot 3-bedrooms priced at $3,290. All units would be market rate.
The company would hope to court a diverse population of residents including students, families and young professionals such as those who “may go to work for Microsoft,” Hamilton said.
Falcon View intends to continue meeting with the neighborhood association and is offering concessions in an attempt to garner support. These include potential access to the development’s rooftop patio for neighborhood events, and amenities including improved sidewalks along Curran Street and a small park adjacent to the building.
The company plans to make its case before NPU-E during the group’s monthly meeting on Nov. 2.
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