An unassuming post-World War II cottage on the western side of Briarcliff Road could hold the key to one of the most transformative transit projects in the City of Atlanta in decades.
Strange as it may seem, the house plays a vital role in paving the way for the long-awaited Clifton Road light rail system.
Last year, the house was purchased by an anonymous holding company for nearly $350,000, before being transferred to Emory University.
The AJC reports that by acquiring the house, perched on the border of Atlanta’s city limits and property owned by the university, Emory can now lobby for annexation into the city.
State law says annexation can only extend to properties contiguous with the existing city limits. The house now provides a bridge between the City of Atlanta and the Emory campus, hypothetically allowing the university to become part of Atlanta.
If annexed by Atlanta, the university could tap in to the newly levied sales tax for the expansion of MARTA, currently unavailable in unincorporated DeKalb County, where Emory technically is now.
However, beyond the task of annexation, there are quite a few hurdles to jump before the house unlocks the Clifton Road corridor for MARTA.
MARTA would have to advance a study that’s been around for years, allocate funds from other proposed projects, and obtain the rights-of-way from a range of landowners.
And the proposed route of the light-rail line (if fully realized), stretching from Lindbergh Center to Avondale Station, would still have to pass through areas outside the City of Atlanta. It’s unclear if that could be funded through the current tax.
Atlanta isn’t the first municipality that Emory has recently managed to join.
Last year, a large property at Executive Park—the site of Emory's new sports medicine complex—was annexed into Brookhaven.