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Stressing affordable housing over parking, latest MARTA-adjacent project breaks ground

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About one-third of apartments at the Grant Park mixed-use development will be earmarked for lower rent prices

An aerial rendering of the proposed development shows how new construction would fit onto existing surface parking.
Redevelopment plans for a parking lot just south of the MARTA hub near Oakland Cemetery.
Rendering: Smith Dalia, via Invest Atlanta

An apartment complex that officials stress will be flush with affordable housing and short on parking has broken ground next to King Memorial MARTA Station.

Developed by the partnership of Place Properties and Russell New Urban Development, the transit-oriented development closed on construction financing last month, and vertical construction is slated to begin in roughly six months, Place Properties CEO Cecil Phillips told Curbed Atlanta in a recent interview.

The potentially $62 million mixed-use project, a development years in the making, is expected to feature 305 apartments—100 of which would be priced as “affordable” at 80 percent of the area median income or less—and about 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.

This week, crews are working on remediating a dozen “environmental hotspots” at the site, Phillips said, with construction in earnest to soon follow.

Some critics of the project have wondered why the five-story complex won’t be taller; Phillips pointed to subterranean issues.

“The subsurface water conditions are such that if you go above the five stories that we’re going, you’d have to put down a different kind of foundation, which would go below the water table,” he said. “And when you do that, you’ve got to collect the water going through into a humongous vault. And before you can discharge it from that vault, you’ve gotta treat it.”

Ultimately, Phillips noted, it could cost half a million dollars annually to deal with the water issues.

The project is linked to a major—albeit underutilized—train station and is expected to include 335 parking spaces, which Phillips stressed is relatively low for the district. (It’s worth noting the development is wiping out a swathe of surface parking, too.)

The logic goes that the need for parking at a transit stop—especially this one—should dwindle in the future.

“We decided to really reduce the ratio and the number of parking spaces because we made a decision that, over the next five years—probably longer than that—the traditional conventional wisdom about parking spaces as a ratio of units is going to undergo a major change,” said Phillips.

“These [parking spaces] cost $30,000 a space,” he continued, “and you don’t want to end up with 100 unused parking spaces because people don’t have cars, take Uber, Lyft, MARTA, or other things, especially at that site. And the tenant base that we’re marketing to probably won’t have many cars.”

Plans for a transformative development at the station near Oakland Cemetery and the northern edge of Grant Park have been percolating for nearly seven years.

MARTA officials hope the development, scheduled to be move-in ready next year, will boost ridership at the station, which is one of the least used in the cruciform train system.

Available floorplans for the residences are expected to range from 520-square-foot studios to 1,125-square-foot two-bed, two-bath units.

At last check in September, market-rate rents were anticipated to run from about $1,220 to $2,210.