By John Schaffner
A plan to redevelop the Moores Mill Shopping Center in northwest Atlanta may be in serious jeopardy because of unusual restrictions for affordable housing placed upon a necessary Tax Allocation District plan by the Fulton County Commission.
Both the member of Atlanta City Council that represents the district where the shopping center is located and the attorney who represents the developer, Edens & Avant of Columbia, S.C., say the county’s demands for 40 percent affordable housing in the mixed-use project may be a deal breaker.
Normally, TADs in the city of Atlanta have required 20 percent affordable housing for development projects to qualify for the TAD funding. However, the Fulton Commission, led by Commissioner Emma Darnell, decided it would not add its approval to the funding through the Perry Boulevard/Bolton Road TAD unless the minimum for affordable housing was raised to 40 percent.
Any TAD in the city of Atlanta also has to be approved by the Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County Commission before any funding can be sought.
The TAD restrictions, however, may not be the only sticky point regarding Eden & Avant’s proposed 345-home residential/commercial redevelopment. The project is on the western end of Buckhead’s Neighborhood Planning Unit-C jurisdiction and that NPU this month tabled a decision on the project until the April meeting to facilitate further discussion between the board and developer.
The issue of whether to grant the developers request for rezoning of the property from Community Business (C-1) to Commercial Residential-Conditional (C-3-C), which would feature a mix of affordable to moderately priced homes, will come up for a final vote at the April 3 meeting of NPU-C.
NPU-C Chair Eric Ranney said at the March 6 meeting, “We have to discuss a number of items and concerns. Once the NPU’s task force “gets its hands around a few issues, there will be a recommendation…,as to how to move forward with the development.” Those issues largely stem from the number of allocated homes marked in the affordable price range.
The proposal being discussed would necessitate the razing of the current properties along Coronet Way and Marietta Boulevard and calls for major renovation of the existing Moores Mill Shopping Center.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this,” said Sharon Gay, the attorney representing Edens & Avant. She said there is a “huge amount” of site work to be done which is very costly.
Gay said her client needs a certain amount of money from the TAD in order to make the project work economically.
Atlanta City Councilmember Felicia Moore, who represents the district where the properties are located, has long fought for the revitalization of the shopping center and surrounding property. She made sure it was included in a Livable Centers Initiative a few years ago and has continuing discussions with the owners of the properties.
“If you had told me a few years ago of a plan to renovate the Moores Mill Shopping Center, I would have been jumping for joy,” she said at the March 6 NPU meeting. She told the Buckhead Reporter it would be a real shame if this plan fell through because of restrictions placed on the TAD funding. But, she added, that the city’s hands are tied on the matter.
The Perry-Bolton TAD was approved in December 2002 by the city and approved by the school board and county the same month. There are a total of six projects that have applied for funding under this TAD.
“I think what we are beginning to see is that TADs are not the best vehicles for affordable housing projects,” Gay told the Buckhead Reporter. “The county commission has given wide deference to the commissioner who represents the district.” She said the dilemma is caused by the wording in the resolution issued by the county in reference to this TAD.
Many ideas have been brought forth for redevelopment of the Moores Mill Shopping Center and surrounding property over the years, including continuing Moores Mill Road through the center to an intersection with Marietta Boulevard. This would eliminate much of the problems with what is considered a confusing and dangerous intersection north of the center where the busy Marietta Boulevard and Bolton Road intersect.