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Avondale Estates City Commission to consider condemning property slated for affordable housing

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Avondale Estates City Commission to consider condemning property slated for affordable housing

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission will meet on Wednesday, June 8, at 5:30 p.m. for a regular meeting followed by a work session. The City Commission meeting will be held via Zoom and at Avondale Estates City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza.

During the meeting, the city commission will consider declaring the city’s intent to use eminent domain to acquire pieces of property at 154 Olive Street, and 2804 and 2816 Franklin Street for city street and public transportation purposes.

To join the meeting via Zoom, click here. The webinar ID is 831 7641 2576.

To view the meeting agendas, click here.

Also on the agenda, the board will set the residential sanitation fees. During the work session, the city commission will discuss the corner lot setback study.

The properties under consideration for condemnation are planned to be 66-units of senior affordable housing. The resolution states the city has offered the property owner, David Ladet, $1.7 million for the property.

TBG Residential, the developers of the affordable housing project, told Decaturish that they received a letter from the city on May 18 with the offer to condemn the property.

At the May 25 city commission meeting, the board approved a variance request from TBG Residential, which is planning to build apartments for low-income seniors at 2804 Franklin Street, 2816 Franklin Street, and 154 Olive Street. The variance reduces the unit size from 1,300 square feet to between 750-985 square feet.

The city commission approved a conditional use permit for the affordable housing development at the April 28, 2021, board meeting.

“The city agreed that reducing the size to allow for the reduction in the size of the unit was important to be able to provide affordable units as this project is entirely affordable,” Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell said at the May 25 meeting. “Further, providing a diversity of housing types is consistent with our comprehensive development plan. For those reasons, both the staff is recommending approval of this variance, as did the planning, zoning and architecture review board.”

The city plans to use the right-of-way to build New Street and extend Washington Street, as laid out in the city’s street grid.

“The site plan identifies space for a future Washington Street extension,” a memo says. “The development team proposes to set aside the land for the road and has stated their intention to build it. The site plan also illustrates a path on the north-south access instead of a road, as is called for in the adopted street grid and codified in the zoning code. The development does not meet all standards required by the City of Avondale Estates Zoning Ordinance; therefore, the applicant has requested relief to accommodate the development as proposed.”

Sarah Buckner, senior development manager at TBG Residential, told Decaturish that the challenge lies with the construction of a new street that would go through the property. The developers have offered to build their portion of Washington Street.

“We can give them a walking path for connectivity so bikes and pedestrians can walk and use that, but what they want is the full north-south street,” Buckner said. “We’re willing to give them connectivity there, which is key to their street grid, and we’re willing to give them our part of the Washington Street extension, but I believe where the hang-up is, is the full north-south [street].”

She added that TBG Residential wants to help the city realize as much of the street grid as they can.

“We’ve been hopeful that we could come to a joint compromise on how we can…help them build their first real affordable housing community in Avondale, but also help incorporate this new street and create that connectivity downtown that we want,” Buckner said. “We believe that the walking path and the Washington Street connection really does do that, but I think that’s ultimately up to city council, what’s more important to them. Is it the street grid and having that full new road? Or is it making compromises?”

The developers have proposed building a wide multiuse path and realigning Washington Street, so the parking garage entrance could be on Olive Street rather than Washington Street.

The property is about 1.6 acres. The area that may be condemned is about 0.81 acres.

“What this does is take about an acre of the property to incorporate the street grid, which 0.5 acres approximately, that’s not going to be enough to build affordable housing. It makes it impossible to build, and the city is aware,” Buckner said. “I believe the city knows that we’ve shown so many site plans, and we’ve said openly that if you incorporate this new street grid that they have in mind, it makes our project completely unbuildable.”

Kevin Buckner, president of TBG Residential, added that the city staff has been great to work with to figure out how to meet the city’s guidelines.

“At the end of the day, we’ve given them a minimum of half a dozen different site plans that help incorporate 75% of what they want in terms of their street grid and then also allow us to build what we want,” Kevin said. “I’m happy to say some of that benefitted us and a lot of it benefitted the city too. It felt to us like a win-win.”

The project, Overlook at Avondale, is planned to be three stories with 66 units, which breaks down to 27 one-bedroom units, and 39 two-bedroom units serving seniors whose income is 40-80% of the area median income. TBG Residential has not yet told the city commission what the rent prices would be.

“It’s really what we would call workforce housing,” Kevin said. “It’s multifamily living, but it has an affordability component to it.”

TBG Residential has received low income housing tax credits for the project, which would be the first development to be fully funded by those tax credits, Sarah said.

The state Department of Community Affairs awarded the low income housing tax credits to TBG Residential in November 2021.

“[The city] is an exciting place to be, and I think that it’s something that the city could really benefit from,” Sarah said.

Amenities would include podium parking, a community room, a computer center and a fitness center, according to TBG Residential’s zoning application.

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