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Could Atlanta’s dilapidated hotels be crucial affordable housing pieces?

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Atlanta’s domestiCITY competition for affordable housing prototypes attracted entries from around the world

Five miles south of downtown in Perkerson Park, the Town and Country Hotel Courts is a former haven for squatters. Four buildings on the 2.3-acre property are all uninhabitable.
Five miles south of downtown in Perkerson Park, the Town and Country Hotel Courts is a former haven for squatters. Four buildings on the 2.3-acre property are all uninhabitable.
DomestiCITY.org

If you think Atlanta’s affordable housing crunch is severe now, imagine the situation in 20 years. By then, metro Atlanta is expected to pack on an additional population roughly comparable to greater St. Louis.

In response to such daunting statistics—and the city’s dearth of affordable housing, a hot topic that contributed to the dismissal of the Beltline’s chief and proved a key talking point in mayoral campaigns last year—a design competition led by Planning Commissioner Tim Keane launched last fall.

Entrance to the Santa Fe Villas on Metropolitan Parkway.
DomestiCITY.org

Now, the domestiCITY competition, as it’s called, is beginning to bear fruits.

As a starting point, the design competition set sights on two hotel properties in the low-density 2300 block of Metropolitan Parkway, at Atlanta’s southernmost limits in Perkerson Park. One hotel property there is occupied; the other, a former haven for squatters that recently burned, is not.

The occupied lodge, Santa Fe Villas, includes 147 units of transitional housing on four acres. As CBS46 reports, the nonprofit-owned property used to be known as a seedy prostitution haven but now functions as a Single Room Occupancy arrangement, popular with formerly homeless people and others trying to get back on their feet.

Next door stands another of Atlanta’s fading midcentury lodges—the abandoned and blighted Town and Country Hotel Courts, which includes four crumbling structures. Plans call for new construction there.

Both properties are within roughly a 10-minute drive of downtown and the Atlanta airport.

The domestiCITY competition, dangling $150,000 in cash prizes, asked architects to reimagine these collective seven acres as more sustainable and denser—but still very much affordable—living environments.

More than 20 designs poured in from nearly 200 participants in 15 countries around the world.

Of six finalists, Boston-based Utile Inc. and Atlanta’s own Lord Aeck Sargent have been picked to move forward to Phase II of the design competition.

At the Santa Fe Villas, as CBS46 notes, winning designs would morph asphalt parking lots into community gardens and playgrounds, double the capacity of rooms for rent, and station social service caseworkers in prominent buildings.

Finalist Utile Inc.’s vision.
DomestiCity.com

But domestiCITY’s goal is much broader than the reimagining and redevelopment of two southside properties.

Notes the competition website: “Ultimately [the projects will] serve as a built prototype for affordable housing solutions along under-developed commercial corridors in Atlanta and in other rapidly growing population centers throughout North America.”

The Town and Country site is overrun with vegetation, garbage, and even a vintage “McFrosty” ice cream truck.
DomestiCITY.org
Currently occupied units at the Santa Fe Villas.
DomestiCITY.org