Beltline picks developers to build mixed-income housing in Buckhead

Plans call for about 130 apartments, much of it affordable housing, for a 3-acre site near Lindbergh MARTA station
This is a drone shot of the 579 Garson Drive site in Buckhead.

Credit: Atlanta Beltline, Inc.

Credit: Atlanta Beltline, Inc.

This is a drone shot of the 579 Garson Drive site in Buckhead.

The Atlanta Beltline has tapped a development team to transform a deserted piece of property near the Lindbergh MARTA Station and turn it into shops and apartments, particularly for people unable to afford Buckhead’s rental prices.

Beltline officials selected Pennrose and Radiant Development Partners to tackle a mixed-use project at 579 Garson Drive, a 2.7-acre site on the banks of Peachtree Creek along the future Atlanta Beltline Northeast Trail. The development is slated to include roughly 130 apartments — most of which will be below-market rate — and 10,000 square feet of commercial space, which will also have spots available for cheaper rents.

Dennis Richards, the Beltline’s vice president of housing policy and development, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the property is a prime spot to provide affordable options in a pricey area of the city.

“You see a lot of market-rate development in and around this area,” he said. “We want to create some opportunities for those who are in the workforce in the area to live where they work.”

The Beltline purchased the land from Wells Fargo in 2021 for $900,000. Richards said the Beltline has become more aggressive with land acquisitions following the explosive rush of development spurred by the mixed-use trail, especially along the Eastside, near popular shopping destinations like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market.

A map showing the Garson Drive site and the future Beltline paths planned for the area.

Credit: Courtesy/Atlanta Beltline Inc.

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Credit: Courtesy/Atlanta Beltline Inc.

“As we saw the Eastside (Trail) developed, we wish we’d have been able to also acquire some of that adjacent property so that we could create opportunities for affordable housing and affordable commercial space,” he said. “Fast forward to today, Garson (Drive) is an example of us doing just that.”

The proposal from Philadelphia-based Pennrose and New York-based Radiant Development Partners, a minority-owned firm, were among an undisclosed number of submissions to a request for proposals issued in January. Richards said he expects to finalize the partnership and close the RFP by the end of the year.

Roughly half of the property is suitable for development, since it features a steep slope toward Peachtree Creek. The development team’s plan for the site revolves around a central plaza, ground-floor “micro-unit” shops, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and apartment buildings that could rise up to five stories.

Four out of five apartments will be reserved for residents who make less than the area median income (AMI), which is $67,500 for an individual. Richards expects those affordable units to range from 50% to 80% AMI — meaning the incomes of individual tenants will be capped somewhere between $33,750 and $54,000 in order for them to quality.

The Beltline’s Housing Policy and Development department has a goal of creating or preserving 5,600 units of affordable housing within the Beltline Tax Allocation District. A Tuesday news release said the organization is nearly at 57% of that goal.

The commercial micro-units will offer small retail spaces at a 30% discount from market-rate prices, Richards said. The development team intends to partner with the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs to help fill those spaces.

The development will also connect to the area’s trail network, including Path 400, South Fork Confluence Trail and the Peachtree Creek Greenway. In July, the Beltline received a $25 million federal grant to accelerate construction of its Northeast Trail.