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Next stop: MARTA aims to bring transit-oriented development east of Decatur

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If the transit agency can clear a zoning hurdle, affordable housing could be en route to Kensington Station

The monumental Kensington Station.

Atlanta’s trend toward transit-oriented development shows few signs of grinding to a halt.

This month, developer Columbia Residential debuted a senior housing complex less than a mile from both the Decatur and Avondale MARTA stations, and the city’s economic development arm Invest Atlanta launched a $15 million fund specifically for transit-oriented development.

Elsewhere, the City of College Park has adopted the first-ever transit-oriented zoning district on the south side of metro Atlanta.

Now, MARTA is shopping around for a developer to bring a mixed-use build to its Kensington station, according to Saporta Report.

Located between Avondale Estates and Interstate 285, the 4.2-acre DeKalb County site, should MARTA have its way, would host housing that’s affordable to people making a teacher’s salary, the publication reports.

“Priority is placed on the provision of housing for families,” according to the request for proposals obtained by Saporta Report. “Special consideration will be given to firms who submit proposals which exceed this goal. Maximum Rent Limits will be the lesser of 35 percent of the qualified tenant’s gross income.”

Before the transit agency can move forward with the project, however, it will have to overcome a zoning hurdle. (The current zoning prohibits retail and office use.)

The RFP is pretty vague about what exactly this mixed-use development would entail, although the traffic at the Kensington station suggests the project could be pretty dense.

Kensington is reportedly the 12th busiest of the 40 MARTA rail stations, with more than 5,500 people moving through it each weekday.

As is typical, the transit-oriented development would also aim to decrease dependence on automobiles, although Saporta Report writes that some cars would still be accommodated.

Talk of a TOD project at Kensington Station has been swirling for several years, since back when Atlanta United planned to build its headquarters, practice facility, and a small stadium near the MARTA hub—plans that were eventually quashed as the team went to Cobb County.

The area, for now, is dominated by strip malls, industrial uses, and the DeKalb County Jail.

MARTA has succeeded in partnering with developers to bring TODs out of the ground at Edgewood, Chamblee, and Avondale stations, but others in Brookhaven (community pushback) and Oakland City (lack of developer interest, per MARTA) have failed to leave the station.