Pay Attention to Reynoldstown.

The Reynoldstown neighborhood is on the tip of the spear for new Atlanta BeltLine real estate developments. Just watch the rezoning application of an apartment project at 930 MAULDIN street.

In 2008, the neighborhood and later, Atlanta City Council, approved a 108 unit, three-story building on the one-acre parcel directly adjacent to the BeltLine.

The project was never developed and now the same owner is back to rezone the property for another 40 units at roughly twice the height.

Neighbors in Reynoldstown are concerned about increasing density to a six-story building across the street from single family homes that can dwarf the scale of the existing street and continue the trend toward suburban style apartment buildings that have been the trend along the Atlanta BeltLine.

There was no provision for “affordable” units at any price in the original rezoning nor in the new application which was rejected unanimously at the recent NPU meeting.

There are still several steps to go with this application and staff from Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. have taken the unprecedented position of pushing hard to rezone the project to include the new units against the recommendation of the neighborhood and NPU.

As it applies to this project, any discussion that reconsiders the rezoning from 2008 should include affordability and design quality improvements.

Now that we’ve had several years of projects along the BeltLine and indeed, across the city, that fall short of what’s needed to have a world-class city that works for everyone no matter where they live, we must do better.  We should be starting the conversation at 20% affordable units if any rezoning and additional density is approved, with at least some portion of those units designed to be specifically ADA accessible.

It’s time to stop kicking the commitment to affordability and accessibility down the road and it should start with this project.   There are design concerns that should be addressed, too. The building interface with the BeltLine corridor needs to be more than a back-door entrance for residents of the building to enjoy and the quality of the building needs to exceed the projected twenty-year life cycle that the developer has stated to neighborhood leaders. We know what this rezoning application portends – more poorly constructed, high-priced apartments designed without consideration of the impact on the city, the neighborhood or Atlanta BeltLine users.  Let’s not build another project that residents and visitors to Atlanta point to and regret.  

It’s time for the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and developers to be better stewards of the Atlanta BeltLine and the unique communities through which it passes.  They can demonstrate that commitment now by how they handle this project.  

Lee Woodsmall