Sandy Springs City Council candidate Jody Reichel makes a living as a landlord and real estate investor with 21 properties in some of Fulton County’s lower-income areas.
Some of Reichel’s tenants in Atlanta and East Point give her glowing reviews for responsive management and low rents.
Several other residential properties she owns are vacant, including six in Atlanta’s struggling English Avenue neighborhood, where Mayor Kasim Reed has criticized absentee real estate investors. While most of Reichel’s properties have no history of code violations, one English Avenue house had two citations in the past year, both of which were resolved.
Reichel, who is competing with Le’Dor Milteer for the District 4 council seat, said she tries to treat tenants well and keep her housing affordable. She said she did not recall code violations on her properties and that she intends to renovate the English Avenue properties into student housing.
“I wouldn’t rent a house I wouldn’t want to live in myself,” said Reichel, who lives in a 12-room house on Sandy Springs’ Carriage Drive valued by county tax assessors at $1.1 million. “I really care about my tenants. I don’t look at this as just a business. I look at this as, those are people who are hard-working. I try to keep my rents low so they can have affordable housing.”
Vaughn Andrews, the retired chief probation officer of DeKalb County, has been Reichel’s tenant at 2411 Old Colony Road in East Point for five years. He sang her praises.
“She’s been a great landlord,” Andrews said. “I haven’t bought a house because of the treatment she’s given me … If she’s elected, she’s going to make a hell of a representative. She’s good people.”
“Miss Jody is the best in the world,” said Annie Davis, an eight-year tenant of Reichel’s property at 423 Mount Zion Road in Atlanta. If a repair is needed, Davis said, “She’ll fix it herself … She put up the lights.”
Reichel said she has been buying and selling residential properties for many years. She said she started buying more houses after the mortgage crisis and market crash a decade ago, and had made more deals since her children headed to college in recent years. She owns some properties in her own name and some under limited liability companies with two friends.
Reichel only recently became aware of the English Avenue neighborhood, she said, after it was mentioned by a friend attending nearby Georgia Tech. Her properties there include four houses and a small apartment building — all boarded up — and a vacant lot where she recently demolished a house.
She bought one of those properties, 702 Meldrum St., last year from Rick Warren, a Buckhead real estate speculator sentenced to jail for repeated code violations in the area in a notorious 2015 case. Reed attended the court hearing and blasted Warren as a “predator” for buying large numbers of English Avenue and Vine City properties, then keeping them vacant and failing to maintain them.
Reichel said she knows Warren, but declined to discuss her thoughts about him on the record. “I met him through the sale [of 702 Meldrum],” she said, adding that it was not immediately clear he was a partner in the company selling it. “I didn’t know who I was buying it from.”
Reichel’s property at 552 Griffin St., in the heart of a rough area called the Bluff, received two recent code enforcement citations, according to city records: one in September 2016 for “overgrowth” and one in January of this year for “exterior structure damages/junk, trash and debris.”
It’s one of only two of Reichel’s current properties to receive code citations under her ownership, all of which have been resolved. (The other is 1665 Willis Mill Road in southwestern Atlanta, cited in 2015 and 2016 for overgrowth or deteriorated siding.)
Reichel said she does not recall the citations on either property. She noted that English Avenue properties can be damaged due to “a lot of drug activity and a lot of vagrants.”
Her English Avenue properties were “for the most part” boarded up when she bought them, she said. She said she may renovate them for rental in the next year or so, especially for student housing, as she sees the market changing. English Avenue is among the neighborhoods spotlighted by redevelopment hopes and gentrification concerns in the wake of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening nearby.
“Eventually, I’d like to have … Georgia Tech housing over there,” Reichel said. “I’m waiting to see what happens over there.”
Residential properties currently owned by Jody Reichel, individually or in partnership with others, include:
2298 Beecher Circle
960 Beecher Court
657 Emily Place
552 Griffin St.
551 Hutchens Drive
455 James P. Brawley Drive
487 Lindsay St.
702 Meldrum St.
706 Meldrum St.
613 Memorial Drive
423 Mount Zion Road
485 Paines Ave.
1665 Willis Mill Road
1667 Willis Mill Road
2545 Picardy Circle North
2835 South Clark Drive
2836 Cloverhurst Drive
2411 Old Colony Road
1409 Vesta Terrace
2486 Wood Valley Drive
394 Carriage Drive
639 Carriage Drive