By Michael J. Thompson
The battle over the proposed rezoning of the shopping center at the end of Moores Mill at Bolton Road has spilled over into NPU-D, as residents of that district were recipients of a presentation delineating the plans for this development at the March 27 meeting held at The Agape Center.
However, the 150 people in attendance were more enthralled with the controversial Perry-Bolton TAD, as District 5 Council Member Emma Darnell was on hand to answer questions regarding the 40 percent affordability housing requirement in their district.
A TAD is an incentive for developers to build in blighted areas to increase property values, which results in more tax revenue to repay bonds for infrastructure improvements.
“That wasn’t your normal meeting,” said Karl Smith-Davids, the city planner for NPU-D, describing the almost three-hour session in front of a standing room only crowd.
Not one of the approved TAD’s – except the Eastside TAD that mandates a 20 percent affordable housing requirement – comes anywhere near the 40 percent requirement for Perry-Bolton that has left developers and residents fuming and searching for answers.
The city initiated the 20 percent on Eastside and Perry-Bolton, whereas Fulton County countered by requesting a 40 percent affordable housing plan within the TAD. The maximum price of the homes will be set at $150,000, primarily designated for households whose combined income does not exceed $56,950.
Additionally, 20 percent of the homes will be listed as workforce housing, as required by HUD 203(b). . For these units, the maximum combined household income is $100,000 and the maximum unit sale price is $252,890.
“We have some of the lowest incomes in our state and in our area in this TAD,” Emma Darnell, Fulton County Commissioner for District 5 explained. “The median income for this community is $25,100. I demand that the people in this district be respected.”
Darnell explained that Fulton County does not sponsor or administer TADs and stated they have no jurisdiction over any housing in Atlanta. “Fulton County got involved because Atlanta asked us to,” she said. “We have a vested interest in Fulton County in seeing communities in Atlanta be revitalized. TAD funds are public funds and these projects must benefit the public.”
District 9 Council Member Felicia Moore was supportive of the projects. “I support getting the projects done,” she said. “Many developers have stated they are not in a good position. They have expressed they may have to sell their properties if nothing happens within the next 30 to 45 days. This is what is happening with the Hollywood Plaza shopping center and that needs help just as bad if not more than the Moores Mill shopping center,” she added.
Darnell is willing to meet with any developer concerned about developing in the area and will even revisit guidelines if needed to make the TAD work for the community. “We in Fulton County are not going to support policies that separate people based on income. The county is committed to this project and we voted to stay in,” she said. “We want the shopping centers, fire station, streetscapes and other things just like you all do.”
When asked about who would benefit from the housing requirements, Darnell responded with Atlanta and Fulton County employees along with some of the 3,000 women and children displaced when Perry Homes was razed. “A third of the workforce in Fulton County cannot afford to live here. People who are sitting on the expressways getting here to work and back home is killing us,” she said. “It is affecting our quality of life for everyone.”
The other approved TADs in Atlanta are Westside, Atlantic Station, Princeton Lakes, Eastside and BeltLine. Darnell stated she wanted all the TADs to have 20 percent affordable housing requirements.
The contentious proposed rezoning of the shopping center at the end of Moores Mill Road at Bolton Road will be voted upon at the next meeting of NPU-D to facilitate further discussion between the board and Edens&Avant.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this,” said Jessica Hill, the lawyer representing Edens&Avant, the firm from Columbia, S.C., that designed the proposed 345-home residential/commercial redevelopment that would necessitate the razing of the current properties that are on Coronet Way and Marietta Blvd. The plan also calls for a major renovation of the existing Moores Mill Shopping Center.
Edens&Avant is seeking to rezone this property from Community Business (C-1) to Commercial Residential- Conditional (C-3-C), which would feature a mix of affordable to moderately priced homes.
NPU-D will cast its yea or nay vote on the fate of the project at its April meeting later this month, by voting on rezoning.