Pulte Homes is seeking to buy land on Buford Highway where two large apartment complexes sit. The company plans to tear them down to build single-family houses and townhomes, potentially displacing hundreds of people now living there.
Pulte Homes, based in Atlanta, is one of the country’s largest homebuilding companies. The company is seeking to buy The Terraces at Brookhaven and Northeast Plaza Apartments, located at 3510 Buford Highway and 3506 Buford Highway respectively, said Joel Reed, vice president of operations of PulteGroup, which operates Pulte Homes.
“We don’t own the property; we’re under contract,” he said. “This is all very preliminary and we’re in the very early stages.”
Reed said plans include tearing down the apartments to build “a nice quality neighborhood” of single-family homes and townhomes.
As for the hundreds of people living in the apartments, Reed promised a “fair transition.” “We would never transition in a way that is unfair to the folks who reside there,” he said.
He did not elaborate what a fair transition would include, because he said the project is at the very beginning stages.
Councilmember Joe Gebbia, who represents that portion of Buford Highway, said he is concerned about the people currently living in the apartments where the planned development is expected to go. He said he knows developers are coming in and wanting to tear down apartments along Buford Highway, and as a result displacing hundreds of people, mostly Latino, and pricing them out of their homes.
“The city is investigating into ways to intervene or try to ensure affordable housing when massive apartment complexes are disassembled and people are going to be displaced,” Gebbia said
The Terraces at Brookhaven is a two-story building constructed in 1968 and has 244 apartments; rents range from $885 to more than $1,300 for one-, two- and three-bedroom units, according to website information.
The Terraces at Brookhaven is owned by Marquis Investments, a subsidiary of Dunwoody-based Crown Holdings, which in recent years has bought eight apartment complexes along Buford Highway. Marquis Investments purchases real estate and implements its “3R Strategy” to “Recapitalize, Renovate and Reposition” to capitalize its multi-family assets, according to the company’s website.
Northeast Plaza Apartments is also a two-story structure with 100 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rents are comparable to The Terraces at Brookhaven, according to website information.
“Our goal is to improve the area,” Reed said. “It’s hard to find property like this, where you can do sizable development, and in this case, we will be reducing density. We will be taking apartments, tearing them down, and building new homes.”
Gebbia said an ideal way for this to work is for the city to somehow gain control of the land, but not by purchasing it, so the city can then dictate to developers that there should be some form of housing made available for the people living there.
For example, he said, the Brookhaven Development Authority could be utilized to market land for future development and mandate affordable housing be included.
The city’s intervention would be used to protect people who work in fast food restaurants, he said, but also local teachers and police officers. People with low-paying jobs in Brookhaven are not going to move 20 miles away to a more affordable area and then commute to work, Gebbia said.
The news of Pulte Homes’ planned development comes on the heels of Brookhaven forming its first Affordable Housing Task Force. Gebbia said he hopes the task force has ideas on ways to ensure people who work in Brookhaven can also afford to live in the city.
“This issue is really a dilemma …. and we need to be forward thinking,” he said. “Because nothing is being done today.”
Pulte Homes is also asking the Briarwood Park Conservancy to support a land swap with the city to build an access road from
Briarwood Way into the proposed new development. In exchange for the land needed to build a road, Pulte Homes would donate a stretch at the northern end of the park.
Gebbia said he asked for a traffic study to see if such a road is feasible. He said he knows some residents living near the park are not happy with the idea of a road through the park, but he wants to make a decision based on “facts and not feelings.”
Pulte Homes has not filed anything official with the city concerning its proposed development.