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Decatur DDA to partner with Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership on cottage court project

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Decatur DDA to partner with Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership on cottage court project

Design drawings depicting the potential layout and front facade of a two-bedroom cottage in the planned Decatur cottage court development. Image obtained via the city of Decatur

By Cathi Harris, contributor 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board voted Friday to work with the nonprofit Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) to build its long-awaited cottage court project at 230 Commerce Drive.

First announced in 2016, the development was intended to be a demonstration of the market viability of smaller footprint houses as well as a source of affordable housing for city employees. 

But progress stalled due to rapidly rising construction costs and issues with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s approval of an entrance to the development, among other factors.

“Ultimately, the development authority does not have the resources to play the developer role for this project,” Decatur’s Director of Planning and Economic Development Angela Threadgill told the DDA board. “It is quite a lot for us. So, having a partner in this that has the extensive experience that ANDP has will be essential in getting this up off the ground.”

A map overview of the planned Decatur cottage court development at 230 Commerce Drive. Image obtained via the city of Decatur.

The Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc. was founded in 1991 to “finance, develop, and advocate for affordable housing at scale that promotes racial equity and healthy communities where families thrive,” according to information on their website.

They have a particular focus on working in communities of color, particularly those in the south Atlanta metro area, that have long suffered from disinvestment. And, they prioritize working with local, small and minority-owned businesses, Jay Perlmutter, ANDP’s director of single-family development told the board.

Their work includes purchasing and rehabilitating existing housing, providing lending and down-payment assistance, and developing new affordable housing where it is needed, he said. “We think that this will be a great benefit for the city of Decatur and it will help us reach our five-year goal of completing 250 rental properties, 500 home-ownership units and 1,250 multifamily units of affordable housing.”

According to the plans outlined in their agreement with the DDA, the ANDP would build six cottage court houses: 1 one-bedroom house, 1 two-bedroom house, and 4 three-bedroom houses, with square footage ranging from 528 to 1117 square feet. The estimated sales prices would be between $199,000 and $275,000.

“This is much lower than the median for the metropolitan area,” Perlmutter noted. 

To preserve the affordability in the future, the underlying land occupied by the cottages and common areas would be transferred to the Decatur Land Trust when each of the cottages is initially sold. The ANDP would also handle the marketing of the finished homes and then vet the initial buyers of the cottages according to terms set by the land trust. These terms would include income limits and reserving first consideration for Decatur city, as well as employees of the City Schools of Decatur, and those of the Decatur Housing Authority.

During construction, the ANDP will acquire the land from the DDA so that–as its owner–it can more easily supervise the development: acquiring permits and hiring contractors, etc. The purchase of the land will be through a loan from the DDA for $180,000—the same amount the DDA originally paid for the land. Holding the loan for the land protects the authority’s investment and allows it to ensure that the ANDP does what it has agreed to do.

As the homes are built and sold, that portion of the loan will be forgiven.

In addition to the land, the DDA is also providing up to $200,000 to subsidize the site-preparation costs.

In contrast to other real estate development projects, the ANDP will not use outside financing. They believe they have sufficient capital to build these six homes, themselves, Perlmutter said. One gap in their budget is the funding for getting the site ready for construction and that is additional funding that the DDA has agreed to provide.

ANDP anticipates working with James Cheeks at Fortas Homes to construct the cottages. Fortas specializes in high-quality, small homes and they have worked with ANDP on several other projects, Perlmutter said.

Once the agreement between the DDA and ANDP is finalized, Perlmutter anticipates getting the initial land disturbance permit before the end of the year or in early January at the latest. Construction of the homes is estimated to take between 12 and 15 months.

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