Mayor Kasim Reed’s decision Wednesday to transfer 10 deeds to Atlanta Public Schools could mean the redevelopment of the George Adair School property into townhomes, apartments and artist space. AJC FILE PHOTO

Mayor Reed, Atlanta schools take step in affordable housing dispute

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said on Wednesday he will turn over disputed Adair Park deeds to the Atlanta Public Schools system, ending a more than 20-month standoff between the city and the district over affordable housing.

At a mid-afternoon press conference, Reed said he would transfer the deeds for property now that the Board of Education has adopted a land development plan that dictates a portion of housing must be sold at prices that teachers, firefighters, police officers and other middle income groups can afford.

“Atlanta must ensure that it remains affordable for people from all walks of life so that everyone — longtime residents and newcomers — can enjoy our growth and our economic resurgence,” Reed said.

The school district issued a statement of appreciation for Reed’s move, but said problems remain.

“The bigger issue that remains is the transfer of APS properties which are still titled to the city,” the school system said. “The city holds the deeds to 44 properties owned by APS and has refused to turn them over to the school district.”

Housing affordability has become a hot topic as millennials and babyboomers alike have sought to move Intown to avoid metro Atlanta’s crippling traffic woes. That has driven up home prices, especially in sought-after neighborhoods along the Atlanta BeltLine.

What’s more, as many as 15,000 units in Atlanta could lose their affordable housing designation over the next decade. That’s because designating a unit as affordable usually lasts about 15 years, after which prices for the housing can be returned to market rates.

The school system had sued the city in 2015 over deeds to George Adair School on Catherine Street and other shuttered property the district wants to sell for about $1.3 million.

Reed said during his State of the City speech at the beginning of last year that he would turn over the property, but reversed course when he insisted the district adopt affordable housing policies for development.

The district balked, saying the mayor was overstepping.

“It’s our property,” school board chairman Courtney English told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You can’t put deed restrictions on something that doesn’t belong to you.”

But the board in late December passed a policy that mirrored the city’s affordable housing ordinance that requires a 15 percent set-aside in multi-family building projects using public funds.

Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens, who authored Atlanta’s affordable housing policy, said Wednesday’s agreement clears the way for the Adair School property, which is along the BeltLine, to be redeveloped for artists, teachers and others. He said one developer, Stryant Construction, has held meetings in the community for about a year about building affordable housing in the area.

“The community is ready to go,” he said. “This is going to have townhomes, apartments and micro-apartments for artists, a coffee shop, bike racks and a lot of other stuff.”

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