Buckhead is prime real estate for apartment developers with roughly 1,500 units under construction and more than 5,000 in the planning stages. But few of those apartments are affordable for much of the affluent north Atlanta neighborhood’s workforce.
The lack of affordable housing came up May 4 at a Buckhead Design Review Committee as members reviewed plans for a proposed 289-unit apartment tower at 3030 Peachtree Road, behind the RH Atlanta showroom. The new building would include a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.
“I probably know the answer to this but are you doing anything remotely close to workforce or affordable?” Denise Starling, chair of the DRC, asked representatives of M Development, the company behind the project. Starling is also executive director of Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental sustainability and alternative commuting.
Attorney Carl Westmoreland said there were no plans.
“That is something that we are looking for somebody to start to do in Buckhead,” Starling said.
“I’m sure y’all have heard about our mismatch between our residents and our workforce. We need to be able to get our workforce living in the community. If that is something you can do, even if it is specifically for teachers, firefighters, police — we would love for you to consider that,” she said.
The lack of affordable housing in Buckhead is not new. More than 90% of people working in Buckhead live elsewhere and must commute to their jobs. In 2019, Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Community Improvement District commissioned a “Buckhead Housing and Commuting Study.” The study showed most new apartments were being built for households making more than $50,000 a year, despite the rise in local workers making that amount.
Last year, Livable Buckhead received an $80,000 grant to study the concept of employer-subsidized affordable housing.
The new apartment tower is planned in the Buckhead Village, a hotspot for multifamily development in recent years. Roughly 3,035 apartment units have been built within a half-mile radius of the intersection of Peachtree, West Paces Ferry, and Roswell roads since 2015, said David Kahn, Southeast director of market analytics for CoStar Group.
Kahn added that recent projects such as The Irby and 3005 Buckhead (formerly Modera Buckhead) are commanding rents of about $3 per square foot, “which are some of the highest rents in the Atlanta metro, highlighting that there is strong demand for high-end rentals in that part of Buckhead.”
Average asking rents in Buckhead are now $2,069 per month for a two-bedroom, according to CoStar. That’s the second-highest in metro Atlanta, behind only Midtown.
The area median income for metro Atlanta is more than $86,000. Rent at 80% AMI for a two-bedroom apartment would be just over $1,500.