City leaders know what kind of apartments they’d like developers to build. Mixed-used developments such as the JLB Partners development at Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway have received support from most members of Sandy Springs City Council.
That project will produce high-end apartments aimed at attracting young professionals to the area.
But City Council members are not quite as certain about how they should get rid of the kind of apartments they don’t like.
With multi-family zoning applications pouring in across metro Atlanta, Sandy Springs City Council is considering what to do with its oldest and most problematic apartment buildings.
“Fifty four percent of our crime is associated with 4 percent of our landmass, which is our apartments,” City Councilman Gabriel Sterling said.
Apartments identified as “Class C” are 25 years old or older, and have higher rates of crime than Class A and B apartments, according to economic development reports produced by the city. The older apartments also lack amenities, such as washer and dryer connections.
According to the city’s economic development plan, there are 7,717 Class C apartment units within 34 apartment complexes in Sandy Springs.
At an Aug. 6 City Council meeting, the Economic Development Advisory Committee presented the council with several suggestions to encourage redevelopment.
In its report, the committee suggested the council could minimize the impact of new apartments on local schools by allowing “an increase in overall unit density, but decrease overall bedroom counts.”
“This lowers the value gap involved in redeveloping the property, but minimizes the school impact,” the report said.
Options presented at the meeting include granting impact fee waivers and building infrastructure near older sites the city would like to see redeveloped.
One idea has generated more discussion than the rest: Whether the city should buy the properties outright in order to have them redeveloped. The committee suggested the city could buy one or more parcels and work in conjunction with a developer of mixed-use properties.
“We’re still investigating to find out what is economically viable, and the appropriate funds available to us,” Sterling said.
But some members of the council aren’t sure the city should take that path. Councilman John Paulson was wary of the city accumulating apartment properties.
“I’m not a fan of the city buying property and being in the development business,” Paulson said. “I would hope that we could find private equity and private interests that would do that, and we could, as a city, provide encouragement for that.”
In its presentation to the city, the committee indicated that buying up run-down apartment properties might be a difficult project when the city is in the midst of redeveloping its downtown area north of I-285.
“The committee recognizes there are financial risks and tradeoffs to any strategy that the city will need to weigh against other city priorities,” the committee’s report says.