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Can Buckhead build its way out of traffic woes—with cheaper housing?

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Analysis: Due to the high cost of living, a vast majority of the neighborhood’s workforce commutes from elsewhere

The Buckhead skyline features glassy blue buildings beneath a blue sky.
Central Buckhead, an office commuter mecca.
Paul Peterson

Try to imagine a Buckhead without traffic.

If that’s impossible, how about a Buckhead where all of its workforce can afford to live where they work?

That’s not easy, either.

According to Livable Buckhead, neighborhood planners eager for two-birds, one-stone solutions are wondering, Can we build our way out of this traffic problem?

“The answer just might be yes... by building a better mix of housing types that are available to a broader range of price points,” states a recent press release by Livable Buckhead and the neighborhood’s Community Improvement District.

Buckhead’s brutal traffic problem, says Livable Buckhead’s executive director Denise Starling, can be attributed to the fact that almost everyone who works in the neighborhood must commute from other areas. The cost of Buckhead living is simply too high for most of the local workforce.

Roughly 20 percent of Buckhead employees—about 13,500 people—can afford only about $1,500 a month in rent, while the heart of the neighborhood offers just 3,500 units at that price point.

So Livable Buckhead and the neighborhood’s CID have contracted HR&A advisors to conduct a study to determine if diversifying the area’s housing options could curb the absurd and relentless traffic congestion.

“We’re not looking for a silver bullet,” said Jim Durrett, executive director of BCID, according to the release. “No single strategy will solve Buckhead’s housing challenges, but we’re confident that we can pursue multiple approaches that increase opportunities for people who work here to live here as well.”

The study is being funded by a Livable Centers Initiative grant, via the Atlanta Regional Commission. The local CID will match those funds, too.

It kicks off this month and is expected to be carried out over the next six months.

It’s not the only CID-led research being conducted to help find an antidote to the neighborhood’s congestion problems.

In June, the BCID launched a study to determine if a new interchange accessing Ga. Highway 400 could be a feasible way to speed things up on roadways.

So, sadly, Buckhead commuters and visitors can look forward to the same sluggish drives they’ve been making for years. At least for the time being.