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Beltline apartment proposal in Reynoldstown is alarming, former councilmember says

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But Atlanta Beltline backs the project as a potential funding source

A former Atlanta City Council president and current mayoral hopeful who was among the Beltline’s early backers sees red flags galore with a multistory residential proposal in Reynoldstown that would snuggle up to the extended Eastside Trail.

Cathy Woolard, who served on the Atlanta City Council (District 6) between 1997 and 2004, writes in a blog post this week that the contentious 930 Maudlin St. venture could set a bad precedent for Beltline development as the trail grows.

Woolard urges Atlantans to keep an eye on the “suburban-style” project’s rezoning application as it moves forward, as it ignores issues of affordability and accessibility and continues poor multifamily construction quality, in her view.

As the New York Times pointed out in its September “Glorified Sidewalk” report, the Beltline’s future is emerging as a central issue in the 2017 mayoral race, and Woolard has been exceptionally critical.

Records show the 1.3-acre piece last sold back in 2006 for about $2.2 million. Woolard’s column says the Beltline and city council approved a 108-unit building of three stories for the site in 2008, but it never went forward. Now, she writes, the same owner (Marietta-based Metzger and Company) is “back to rezone the property for another 40 units at roughly twice the height” — that is, up to six stories on the non-Beltline side.

“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,” Woolard writes. “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 20-year life cycle that the developer has stated to neighborhood leaders.”

Speaking of neighbors ... the new rezoning application was unanimously rejected at a recent NPU meeting.

The property’s original, recession-era rezoning had no provision for “affordable” housing, and Woolard argues that developers should be required to offer at least 20-percent of the units as affordable living options if additional density is approved.

Neighborhood residents have pushed back against this proposal in previous meetings, voicing concerns about the project’s scale among so many single-family houses, as Creative Loafing reported last year. Beltline officials (including CEO Paul Morris) have attended meetings to urge support for the site’s densification, stressing that development is crucial for funding more Beltline construction via the tax allocation district.

So, yes, it should be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

Creative Loafing

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