The Mechanicsville Cityside community south of downtown Atlanta features 74 detached houses in the community near Turner Field. The public-private venture between the state, city and private sector developers is a first of its kind, offering homes at rents affordable for households earning 60 percent of the area median income. Residents can obtain the homes through a lease-purchase arrangement. J. Scott Trubey/strubey@ajc.com
Photo: J. Scott Trubey/STAFF
Photo: J. Scott Trubey/STAFF

Affordable housing development opens near Turner Field

Atlanta and state leaders on Thursday celebrated the opening of an affordable housing community near Turner Field that officials say will ease the crunch on quality workforce housing.

Mechanicsville Cityside isn’t an apartment complex, but rather 74 new or refurbished detached homes available under a lease-purchase program. It’s a new type of product for the city, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said, and one he said will make more housing available for working-class families.

Atlanta has seen a surge of development in luxury high-rise and mid-rise apartments, sometimes replacing lower income properties. Reed said his administration seeks to avoid the housing affordability issues seen in cities such as New York and San Francisco.

Reed said the city doesn’t want to see residents displaced by gentrification. He said housing for firefighters, cops and other working class people is a high priority.

“Equity is one of the most important conversations going on in the city of Atlanta,” he said.

The Mechanicsville community was developed in partnership with the city, the state Department of Community Affairs, the nonprofit SUMMECH Community Development Corp, Columbia Residential and Brock Built Homes.

The homes are just west of Turner Field along Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard.

Eligible tenants can make up to 60 percent of the area median income. The median household income in the city of Atlanta is about $46,400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Affordable housing tax credits and federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds are part of the program. Occupants rent through the lease-purchase program for 15 years and are then eligible to become homeowners.

The families also receive financial counseling, said Janis Ware, executive director of SUMMECH CDC. Ware said about 1,500 people are on a waiting list for the homes.

“The demand for this type of housing is there,” Ware said.

Turner Field, which is being acquired by Georgia State University and private sector developers, is slated to become a football stadium for the Panthers with an adjacent mixed-use development, including housing, retail and restaurants.

Noel Khalil, CEO of Columbia Residential, said denser development, more housing and retail around Turner Field “is only going strengthen the redevelopment here.”

He said he expects construction to be finished by spring.

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