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Decatur DDA gets closer to signing development agreement for cottage court project


Decatur DDA gets closer to signing development agreement for 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

Decatur, GA — The Decatur Downtown Development Authority is expected to sign the development agreement with Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) within the next week for the long-awaited cottage court project at 230 Commerce Drive.

According to the plans outlined in their agreement with the DDA, the ANDP would build six cottage court homes: 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.

At the Feb. 11 DDA meeting, Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said the design plans for the project have not changed.

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.

In mid-January, the DDA applied for a land disturbance permit and is going through the review process. The board also had to get boundary tree agreements from the neighboring property owners, Threadgill said.

“This is kind of real world stuff that the development community has to go through, and we’re doing the same. We did submit the building permit on Feb. 2,” Threadgill said. “On Feb. 23, we will be going before the Historic Preservation Commission for the certificate of appropriateness renewal.”

The board was issued the certificate of appropriateness from the HPC in 2018, but that expires after six months if the project hasn’t started. The DDA has to go back through the process to renew the certificate.

The other long-term partner in the project is the Decatur Land Trust, so the board and the developers have to think about the conveyance, covenants and affordability restrictions upfront in the process.

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, Decaturish previously reported.

ANDP would handle the marketing of the finished homes and vet the initial buyers according to the terms set by the Land Trust. The terms would include income limits and reserving first consideration for city of Decatur employees, as well as City Schools of Decatur employees and the Decatur Housing Authority.

“We’re trying to make sure that there’s enough teeth in the development agreement that these things have to transpire and happen in this way,” DDA Chair Conor McNally said. “What’s important for us is to make sure that it gets built with the designs and the plans that are going to be attached to the development agreement, that the affordability requirements get met, and in fact, we’ve got some ties to making sure that we understand, and we know about the final budget and the final prices are going to be.”

The DDA hopes to break ground on the project in April, pending the approval of the land disturbance permit.

— In other business, during the meeting, board member Darren Comer was curious about the status of the former Starbucks building on the Decatur Square.

Starbucks still owns the building, Downtown Program Manager Shirley Baylis said. The city is trying to reach out to Starbucks to see if they would be interested in subleasing the building.

Baylis added she has received a lot of interest from Decatur businesses who would like to expand and from others interested in the space.

Writer Cathi Harris contributed to this article.

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