Fulton board to consider tax break for new apartments near Beltline

This is a Google Maps screenshot of a shuttered building where RPF Highlands LLC plans to build a mixed-use development along Boulevard and Highland Avenue.

Credit: Google Maps

Credit: Google Maps

This is a Google Maps screenshot of a shuttered building where RPF Highlands LLC plans to build a mixed-use development along Boulevard and Highland Avenue.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the identity of the development group.

A Fulton County agency will consider granting more than $5 million in tax breaks for a luxury residential and retail project near the Eastside Beltline trail, one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city.

The Development Authority of Fulton County (DAFC) will vote Tuesday on the tax abatement, which would provide about $5.7 million in tax savings for the project’s developers. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported the project is heralded by Atlanta-based Fuqua Development and Charlotte-based Northwood Ravin, who are under contract to buy the 3-acre site along Boulevard and Highland Avenue from multifamily developer Aderhold Properties.

The developers propose to build a 284-unit mixed-use building, a grocery store and about 12,400 square feet of retail and restaurant space, replacing a shuttered furniture store and empty lots near the Freedom Barkway Dog Park. The developers will also build roughly 400 new parking spaces for residents, shoppers and dog park visitors.

The developers will reserve 15% of the apartments — or 43 units — for tenants making 80% or less of the area median income, a requirement for developments close to the Beltline’s popular multi-use trail. In return for the tax abatement, the developers will preserve the affordable units’ pricing for 30 years — 10 years beyond what city code requires.

Development authorities play outsize roles in recruiting jobs and investment and DAFC is among the more prolific providers of taxpayer-funded incentives. But the authority has received criticism for approving tax breaks for projects in fast-growing areas, including the Beltline or Midtown with few public benefits. Critics contend the authority often grants incentives for projects that would have been built without tax breaks.

The authority, as part of the “bond-for-title” transaction, would earn a fee in exchange for enacting the tax break.

DAFC Executive Director Sarah-Elizabeth Langford told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the grocery store and extended affordability would not happen without the incentive.

“The community has been considered a ‘food desert,’ and this development will bring a needed grocery store to the community,” she said in an email. “We are working tirelessly to meet the need for affordable housing choices in Fulton County, and this incentive helps achieve this vital objective and also extends the affordability period.”

A Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Kroger and Publix are all within about two miles of the site.

Last month, a potential tax abatement for a data center that’s already under construction along the Beltline received strong pushback from residents and city officials, leading to the request being shelved. That item was not included on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting as of Monday afternoon.

“QTS is still working through community concerns,” Langford said. “There is no time frame for when they will appear on our agenda.”

The development plan by Fuqua and Northwood Ravin was first revealed last summer, according to the Chronicle. An initial site plan included eight stories of apartments atop a grocery store. Fuqua has been an active developer across metro Atlanta, including the Battery at Truist Park and Madison Yards along the Beltline.

The board’s meeting is at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the DAFC’s conference room at 141 Pryor Street SW, suite 2052. It will be available to stream on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/s/86783512933?pwd=anFnb1ZWSVllWDUxQS9wQVQ3eWFjQT09.