Team picked to transform former Atlanta low-income housing complex

The Atlanta Housing Authority has picked a team to redevelop the former Herndon Homes site near the Georgia Dome into a mixed-income community.

In a news release Tuesday, El Paso, Texas-based Hunt Companies and Atlanta-based Oakwood Development Group said they have been chosen as master developers of the 12-acre site west of downtown along Northside Drive, which was formerly a public housing project. Herndon Homes was shuttered nearly a decade ago.

The housing authority since the mid-1990s has shifted to replace aging public housing stock with new mixed-income communities.

The property was demolished several years ago. AHA sought developers to transform it into a mixed-income development with a blend of housing, retail and other uses, hoping the area would catch on with developers amid construction of the new Falcons stadium and a broader rebound of the real estate market.

“This project will allow Hunt to continue its commitment to developing projects that help improve community connections, help offer more jobs for the local area and offer quality of homes for all,” Chris Hunt, Hunt Companies CEO, said in the release.

The release said the $150 million development plan calls for about 700 residences and retail space.

The site is considered a key anchor for potential renewal in neighborhoods in the shadow of the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is set to open next year. The property was once seen as a potential site for the new stadium.

The announcement came the same day a fair housing coalition, the Housing Justice League, held a hearing at Atlanta City Hall calling for changes in zoning, new renters’ rights codes, increased wages and other policies help relieve the crunch on affordable housing in the city.

Housing affordability has become an issue in the city amid a rush of new luxury rental development. The housing league released a report recently from Georgia Tech researchers that found the city has lost 5 percent of its affordable units every year since 2012. Virtually all new apartments since that time have been considered luxury, the report said.

The report further stated that more than half of all renters in the city limits pay greater than 30 percent of their income on housing, a threshold that many housing advocates say is a sign of stress if exceeded.

Mayor Kasim Reed has said affordable housing is a priority, and has said he wants to avoid the affordable housing crunch seen in cities like San Francisco and New York.