Fulton County acquires land for tiny houses in College Park

Credit: David Peterson

Credit: David Peterson

Plans for a pilot development of not-quite-tiny houses in College Park took a big step forward Wednesday with the Fulton County Commission’s agreement to take ownership of two plots of land.

The deal between the county, College Park and the College Park Business & Industrial Development Authority cites a “serious shortage of affordable housing” as a reason for the project.

County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts has repeatedly stated his enthusiasm for tiny houses as a model for future developments for seniors, veterans, young professionals or retirees.

The county agreed to manage the “design, development, construction, and construction administration of the residential units for the Pilot Program,” will choose among qualified buyers through a lottery, and will help the winners apply for things like downpayment assistance, the agreement says.

The houses are to be sold at a price “affordable” to people making up to 80% of the area’s median income, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and priority will go to households earning 60% or less of median income.

Pitts has said prices will likely run from $100,000 to $150,000, depending on house size.

In many places zoning regulations make tiny-house developments difficult or impossible. As part of the current agreement, College Park will adopt a zoning text amendment allowing “cottage home communities” as a conditional use in residential and transit-oriented districts.

In August 2022 the county approved spending $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds on a pilot project of tiny houses, and looked for county-owned plots of up to half an acre for that purpose. In mid-April county commissioners approved $330,399 of that allocation for a project manager.

The idea was to build six to eight houses per half-acre. Staff couldn’t find any suitable land the county already owned, and so recommended a site owned by College Park.

In May, Pitts said College Park City Councilman Joe Carn found an ideal location within walking distance of a MARTA station.

The county negotiated an agreement with College Park’s Business & Industrial Development Authority to acquire two parcels, each of 0.43 acres, at 3668 Jefferson St. and 1739 Princeton Ave. They are valued at $52,900 and $73,100 respectively, but will cost the county nothing and land value will not be included in the final price of the houses.

“The designs being considered for construction are slightly larger than tiny homes, which are defined as residential units of no more than 400 square feet, and are more appropriately considered cottage homes, residential units of between 500 and 750 square feet,” the agreement says. Elsewhere it describes building “small detached residential units between 401 and 1,400 square feet in size, organized in clusters and characterized by a shared central open space. The specific number of residential units will be determined based on an evaluation of the Property and the design concepts ultimately approved by the County.”