City of Atlanta buys apartment building, plans to provide affordable housing

January 12,2016

Atlanta has purchased an apartment building and plans to rent units at reduced prices to workers who earn less than the median income, according to Mayor Kasim Reed’s office and legislation approved by the Atlanta City Council.

The project is located across Central Avenue from Atlanta City Hall. City Plaza has 164 apartments and more than 90 percent of them are rented, according to a statement from Reed’s office.

Tenants have been notified of the transaction. “Residential leases will not be affected,” the statement says.

Legislation approved by the Atlanta City Council states the city intends to convert a portion of the apartment units to affordable housing. The paper was adopted by unanimous vote, without discussion, on Jan. 4.

The legislation says the city intends to: “[P]rovide certain ‘workforce housing program implementation and monitoring services’ (Program Services) ensuring that a portion of the residential units in the facilities will be available for lease or rent to, and affordable by, person’s having an income (adjusted for family size) not in excess of 80 percent of the applicable area median income….”

Reed’s statement and the legislation do not indicate how many units will be offered in the affordable housing program.

Reed’s office announced Jan. 5 that the city closed on the purchase of City Plaza on Dec. 29, 2015.

“Acquiring the City Plaza complex provides us with an important opportunity to enhance services for city residents and make the City of Atlanta an employer of choice,” Reed said in the statement. “I am excited about this opportunity and believe residents and employees will benefit from this acquisition for years to come.”

The structure contains about 30,000 square feet of retail space that’s now divided into six bays, the statement said. The largest space is to be converted into a wellness and fitness center, with a pharmacy, that will be restricted to Atlanta city employees. The statement did not mention the fate of a current fitness center in Atlanta City Hall.

The statement continues, “The Reed administration is evaluating options to repurpose the remaining space, taking into consideration potential needs of both city residents and employees.”

The legislation authorizes the Downtown Development Authority to sell revenue bonds in an amount up to $10 million to help fund the purchase the building. The bonds will be backed by the “full faith and credit” of the city.

City Plaza consists of 3.1 acres of land. The property covers the entire block facing Atlanta City Hall, along Central Avenue. It is between Mitchell Street and Trinity Avenue.

The structure was built in 1996, as Atlanta prepared to host the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. There was a lot of momentum at the time in the redevelopment of the central business district. The notion of an apartment building with retail space on the ground floor seemed spot on.