Atlanta taps private developers for mixed-use plan at Bowen Homes site

The Atlanta Housing Authority wants to work with four private developers to create a mixed-use neighborhood at the former Bowen Homes public housing site.

The AHA announced Wednesday that The Benoit Group, McCormack Baron Salazar, Coleman and Associates, and JG Consulting submitted a joint proposal to redevelop the 74 acres of land owned by the city. AHA received four responses after releasing a request for proposals in April.

Trish O’Connell, Atlanta Housing’s deputy chief real estate officer, said the developers proposed to build 1,892 units, with most of them offered at a market rate.

On the affordability side, 250 homes will offer rents for people making at or below 80% of the area median income (AMI), which is $77,120 for a family of four. A total of 252 units will be available for a family of four earning up to $57,840, while 254 “workforce” units will be available at between 80% to 120% of the median income, or up to $115,680 for a family of four.

An AHA spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the aforementioned price ranges and the number of affordable units are likely to change in negotiations with the development team.

The developers also want to build 108 townhomes residents could own. Down payment assistance would be offered for 36 of them for families making up to 80% of area median income. Another 36 homes would be reserved for the workforce (80%-120% AMI), and the remaining 36 homes will be priced at the market rate.

“This is a transformational project for Northwest Atlanta that will bring affordable homes and a vibrant neighborhood back to the community,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement.

The proposal also features plans for neighborhood retail, a grocery store, recycling facility, a memorial plaza for the 1980 Daycare Explosion, and “municipal uses” only described as space for fire and police department training.

O’Connell said the AHA met with residents over 18 months to develop a plan that also has a storm water management system and an improved street network, among other measures to preserve the area’s natural environment with recreational greenspace.

All together, the project is valued at $607.4 million, AHA documents show. The AHA plans to apply for a $40 million Choice Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support the plan. O’Connell said the developers will require more time to seek additional funding if the city does not receive the federal award.

Atlanta Housing’s board of commissioners unanimously voted to accept the developers’ joint proposal. Not only does this mean the agency can begin negotiations with the development team, but the AHA and the developers can also begin the work of creating a federal grant application for the project.

The AHA still has to revisit the board for approval prior to any financial transactions for the plan, such as the final contract and the submission of the federal grant application. Construction could begin between next year and 2024.

Located at 2700 Yates Drive NW, the Bowen Homes site is adjacent to the Brookview Heights neighborhood, Carey Park neighborhood, the A.D. Williams School, and several retail businesses. The housing project was built in 1962 to house 650 low-income families.

When it was first built, the Bowen community featured a public school, a library, and a daycare center. However, the AHA says Bowen residents were largely isolated from the surrounding neighborhood, creating a pocket of poverty where residents were locked out of opportunities in the city.

Soon, Bowen Homes became riddled with crime and was considered by some as one of the most dangerous places in Atlanta. Atlanta Housing razed the property in 2009 in hopes of transforming it into a mixed-use neighborhood.

The Bowen Homes site proposal is the latest development in a series of housing plans underway at the AHA. Atlanta Housing board member Duriya Farooqui urged the agency to maintain its momentum, while AHA board member Sarah Kirsch called the proposal “a work in process, in progress.”

AHA chairman Larry Stewart said in a statement that Atlanta is poised yet again to get the Choice Neighborhood grant thanks to the developers, who are being referred to as the “Bowen District Developers.”

“This project will be transformative for Northwest Atlanta and will leverage millions more in investments, jobs and opportunities for Atlanta residents,” Stewart said.

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority