Developer gets financing for affordable housing near Avondale station

80 affordable apartment for seniors to join MARTA-adjacent development
This is a rendering of the second phase of East Decatur Station, a mixed-use development near the Avondale MARTA station.

Credit: City of Decatur

Credit: City of Decatur

This is a rendering of the second phase of East Decatur Station, a mixed-use development near the Avondale MARTA station.

A residential developer will receive millions of dollars from state and local officials to build 80 affordable apartments for seniors at the Avondale Estate MARTA station.

Columbia Residential closed on a financing deal with the Decatur Housing Authority earlier this week to develop the new senior housing project, adding to an effort to put more residential density near key transit centers. The $32 million project is made possible by grant funding, tax credits, government loans and other assistance, the developer said.

The agreement comes at a time when developers face an uphill battle getting investors to back their projects. Multiple metro Atlanta developments have been delayed or scaled back due to financing issues and tight capital markets, which are grappling with high interest rates and the COVID-19 pandemic’s lingering effects on commercial real estate.

“It remains a challenging capital market environment for new developments,” MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood said in a news release. “This closing demonstrates investor demand still exists for affordable housing communities near transit, especially when executed by quality developers and supported by local jurisdictional partners.”

In recent years, MARTA has focused on adding housing to the areas near its train stations, with several undergoing redevelopment. The ambitious renovation of downtown’s Five Points MARTA station has been a focal point of the transit agency, while several of its suburban stations have received similar transformation efforts.

Located about seven miles east of downtown, the Avondale station was among the first MARTA developments to deliver new housing. Atlanta-based Columbia Residential build 92 affordable senior units, 378 market-rate apartments and 23,000 square feet of retail in 2018, a project called East Decatur Station. MARTA sold two adjacent parcels, which total 1.5 acres, to Columbia three years later for future development phases, including the forthcoming 80 senior apartments.

This is a rendering of East Decatur Station.

Credit: City of Decatur

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Credit: City of Decatur

To qualify for the age-restricted units, residents must be at least 62 years old and can’t have an income more than 80% of the area median income — $57,200 for an individual or $65,360 for two people. The units will consist of single- and two-bedroom apartments.

To finance the new project, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs provided a $7 million loan alongside access to Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The state’s Office of Planning and Budgeting chipped in a $2 million grant, while DeKalb County added a $1.6 million loan. The city of Decatur contributed $438,100 in financing for infrastructure support, and the Decatur Housing Authority included vouchers to help cover residents’ subsidized rents.

“We are proud to honor our commitment to provide affordable housing options for seniors with access to transit at the Avondale MARTA station,” Columbia Residential President Carmen Chubb said in the release.

Construction will begin later in January, with the first units available by late summer 2025.

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