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Decatur City Commission approves agreements with housing authority for South Housing Village

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Decatur City Commission approves agreements with housing authority for South Housing Village

The Decatur Housing Authority is developing 132 units of affordable housing that will be a mix of apartments, stacked flats and duplexes at Legacy Park. Photo courtesy of the city of Decatur.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission approved a few agreements related to the South Housing Village at Legacy Park on Monday, Nov. 6.

The city commission approved two amendments to the intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Decatur Housing Authority, an intergovernmental infrastructure funding and development agreement, and a ground lease with the DHA.

Approval of these items was needed so the DHA can close on the financing for phase one of the project, City Manager Andrea Arnold said. The city entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the DHA on Nov. 15, 2021, and DHA is serving as the developer of the South Housing Village project that will include 132 affordable units, made up of apartments, stacked flats and duplexes at the corner of South Columbia Drive and Katie Kerr Drive. The site of the development is about six acres.

The housing will be built in two phases. Sixty-six units will be built in each phase. The first phase will include two apartment buildings, two stacked flat buildings, the three duplexes and the community center.

The second phase will include the remaining two apartment buildings and two stacked flat buildings. DHA has received low income housing tax credits for both phases.

“We’re attempting to close in December,” DHA Executive Director Doug Faust said in response to a question from the commission. “Construction will be about 24 months total. We have received funding for phase two, and then we will move toward closing of phase two probably in the fall of next year. In essence, under construction at the same time.”

One of the amendments to the IGA approved on Monday night in part outlines the process for future recapitalization, which would happen when the housing authority would need to revitalize or renovate the development.

“Right now, the housing authority is financing a large amount of the project through low income housing tax credits. That’s going to get the project built and then at some point in the future, say 20 to 30 years out, most likely the development will need to be totally renovated,” Arnold told Decaturish. “Recapitalization is when the housing authority will need to reinvest or renovate the development.” 

The other amendment allows the city to fund infrastructure projects in the development that will not be conveyed to the city. A previous version of the IGA limited the city to making infrastructure improvements to those that would be conveyed to the city and become city property.

The city commission also approved an infrastructure funding and development agreement, which defines who will be responsible for construction, installation and funding of the infrastructure improvements. 

The city will also provide about $3.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for infrastructure development on the site, and expects to receive an additional $750,000 in federal community project funding for the project. 

“It is quite likely that the federal funding committed to the project will be greater than the total cost of the improvements to be conveyed to the city” Arnold said. 

The development includes an interior driveway at the top of the development area that intersects with Katie Kerr at Ashbury Drive that will be built by the housing authority. The driveway will be conveyed to the city and become a city road. 

“What we’re talking about is an interior road, so the road, the sidewalks, and other related infrastructure,” Arnold said. “However, I do not believe that that road is going to over $4 million. This amendment to the IGA will allow additional funds to be dedicated to the project area for the purposes of infrastructure, [but] that infrastructure won’t be conveyed to the city.” 

A ground lease was approved as well for phase I of the project. A separate ground lease will be need for each phase. 

“A requirement of the project investors is that the term of the ground lease is 75 years, and that’s consistent with what we expected with a long term ground lease and the annual rent in this case is $10,” Arnold said. 

There was some confusion about Monday night’s agenda, prompting a few public comments about the realignment of Katie Kerr Drive. The city planning to realign Katie Kerr Drive with Kirk Road following the construction of the South Housing Village.

“At this point, the Katie Kerr realignment is just part of the Legacy Park Master Plan, but there is no timetable associated with that part of the plan,” Arnold told Decaturish. “There are other projects that we need to get underway before going back to the plan and deciding what we’re going to do next.”

On Monday night, residents urged the city commission to conduct a traffic study in the area and engage the community before moving forward with the realignment.

Lauren Dwyer is the incoming president-elect of the Hargrove Homeowners Association. There are 59 homes and townhomes at the corner of South Columbia Drive and Katie Kerr Drive.

“It’s already a very tricky intersection to get across safely,” Dwyer said. “People turning right onto Katie Kerr from South Columbia feel entitled to go right on red no matter what, even when pedestrians have the right of way.”

She said the most glaring issue is the lack of information and wondered about the traffic study.

“The initial Legacy Park documents all talk about how this might be a really great idea to realign so that it could reduce crashes, create a simpler, single point intersection, and maybe make it safer overall, but respectfully you owe a duty to the safety of our community to get actual information and hard facts,” Dwyer said.

Resident Lynn Gathercole raised a concern that the realignment does not solve the traffic issues in the area.

“It’s not a problem on Katie Kerr, the problem is on Columbia Drive,” Gathercole said. “If you are going south on Columbia Drive to that intersection at Kirk, there’s no turn lane.”

She added that one car making a left turn onto Kirk blocks traffic. Similarly, drivers making a left turn onto Katie Kerr Drive also holds up traffic.

“I don’t think there has been an actual traffic study done about this area in the community and how that is impacted,” Gathercole said.

The city commission has not voted on plans for the realignment of Katie Kerr Drive. The agreements approved on Monday night outline the process for construction and conveying an internal driveway that intersects with Katie Kerr to the city.

“We hear your concerns, but in no way would the city be considering a project of this magnitude, the realignment of a city road, without involving the neighbors that would be impacted by this,” Arnold said during the meeting.

Arnold also told Decaturish that the realignment project will include a traffic study, community engagement, engineering and a consultant would be involved.

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