More affordable housing coming to MARTA rail station in Decatur

Eighty units of affordable senior housing are coming to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Avondale Station transit-oriented development (TOD) area after Columbia Residential and the Decatur Housing Authority (DHA) recently announced they have closed on financing for the homes.

According to MARTA officials, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, city of Decatur, Decatur Housing Authority and DeKalb County are providing financial support for the new development, which provides housing for residents at a range of incomes below 80 percent of the area median income. The 80 one- and two-bedroom units with amenities is an addition to the 92 affordable senior units built in 2018 and will allow residents direct access to Avondale rail station located at 915 E Ponce de Leon Ave.

In May 2021, MARTA sold the land to Columbia Residential specifically for affordable senior housing given Columbia Residential’s successful delivery of affordable senior units in the first phase, stated MARTA officials. The parcel is one of the two final components of the southside master TOD plan executed by MARTA, Columbia Ventures LLC, Cortland, and the city of Decatur, said officials.

“It remains a challenging capital market environment for new developments,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “This closing demonstrates investor demand still exists for affordable housing communities near transit, especially when executed by quality developers and supported by local jurisdictional partners.

By offering more equitable access to transit and affordable housing, this development will provide its senior residents with more financial freedom and mobility options.”

The closing at Avondale rail station comes months after officials celebrated the groundbreaking for a 250-unit affordable senior and multifamily development at Kensington Station in Decatur. Officials said building affordable housing close to public transportation hubs encourages “smart growth” in the area.

“Decatur East Phase II will provide affordable senior housing in Decatur that incorporates growth through transit-oriented development, new urbanism, green building, walkability, and community-building,” said Doug Faust, CEO of the Decatur Housing Authority.

Officials also pointed to similar projects in DeKalb County and beyond that have been successful in incorporating affordable housing and public transit.

“These developments allow residents to lower their housing and transportation costs, making units within affordable and mixed-income housing TODs easier to lease; for example, similar mixed-income developments that have recently opened – Marchon at King Memorial MARTA station and Quill at Edgewood Candler MARTA station – both reached leasing stabilization within six to 12 months,” stated MARTA officials.

As affordable housing continues to be a crisis in DeKalb County, officials said, construction projects such as the ones near Avondale and Kensington rail stations have become a necessity.

“The lack of affordable housing is something that cannot be overstated,” said Housing Authority of DeKalb County’s President and CEO Peter Walker. “These types of developments are extremely important to help in bridging the gap between housing, transportation, and the ability to make a living. We continue to make strides in helping bring up the communities we serve with the housing that meets their needs.”

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