Hapeville on the rise: City works to shield homeowners with homestead

Only open weekdays, Mami’s La Cubana Restaurant in Hapeville does brisk business during the workweek, especially at lunch. CONTRIBUTED BY PAULA PONTES

Only open weekdays, Mami’s La Cubana Restaurant in Hapeville does brisk business during the workweek, especially at lunch. CONTRIBUTED BY PAULA PONTES

Want a sign that a little city is on the rise? Hapeville voted Tuesday night to increase its homestead property tax exemption.

City officials call it an effort to insulate the nearly 2,100 current homeowners from rising property values in the city — a result of the city’s increasing popularity and a residential real estate boom.

The City Council made the unanimous decision to ask state legislators to increase the homestead exemption from $10,000 to $15,000 in assessed value for homeowners. For residents age 65 and older the increase would be from $10,000 to $20,000. The homestead exemption is the amount of their home’s taxable value that homeowners can exempt when their property taxes are calculated.

According to 2018 U.S. Census data, Hapeville has an estimated 6,500 residents, all of them neighbors to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and about seven miles away from downtown Atlanta.

Flashback Photos | Hapeville through the years

City Manager Tim Young said the change in the homestead exemption means Hapeville stands to lose between $60,000 and $100,000 a year in property tax collections. But he told the City Council that he didn’t “have a lot of heartburn in doing so” because it won’t reduce any services.

There are many causes for the city's growth, including the nearby headquarters of Delta and the new Kimpton Overland Hotel built to serve Porsche's nearby North American headquarters and a track where people can zip around curves in Porsches for hundreds of dollars an hour. And all the growth is evidenced by the explosion of the food and beverage scene throughout the city's 2.5 square miles.

It's impressive that a retiree-heavy weekday city — the fire department estimates a daytime population of more than 50,000 people — near one of the world's busiest (read: noisiest) airports is seeing increasing home prices.

“It’s just been discovered recently by people in terms of how close it is to the highway, to the airport and then obviously Porsche” bringing its headquarters nearby, said Eugene James, a senior director with real estate data firm MetroStudy.

From 2017 | A food tour of Hapeville

He said the group’s data shows that home prices in the southern part of Fulton County had a 19 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018.

“That would make their exemption very timely,” he said.

State law governs homestead exemptions, so any adjustment must be authorized by legislators. If the General Assembly approves Hapeville’s increase and the governor signs it, the City Council would then have to vote on revising its local ordinance.

James said one of the city’s advantages is that it hasn’t been the destination for the masses who fled Atlanta for the metro area’s northern arc.

“Just think about how traffic is in the suburbs, primarily the northern suburbs,” James said. “The traffic is also causing people to rethink where they want to live, and a lot of folks are just trying to get 2 hours of their life back by moving in.”

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From September 2018...

It was Hapeville vs. Douglass.