Partners (Number 3, 2004)
Partners (Number 3, 2004)
|Live, Work, Play: an Urban Innovation|
True to its motto “Live, Work, Play,” the ATLANTIC STATION® redevelopment includes affordable housing and a host of new jobs in its comprehensive approach to community development. But this kind of development doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes vision and cooperation among many partners.
After years of planning, ATLANTIC STATION, LLC® is finally becoming a reality: a formerly contaminated steel mill site near downtown Atlanta is now being transformed into what some would refer to as a new “mini-city.” Currently in various stages of completion, the former site of Atlantic Steel is becoming home to office towers, a major shopping and entertainment district, a hotel, and housing in an area that saw little hope a decade ago.
The steel years
Opportunities for clean-up helped to offset the inherent disadvantages of brownfield conditions. The site’s prime location, large size that allowed for scale, and the creation of a comprehensive master plan suggested significant redevelopment potential, and this made clean-up costs feasible.
According to Brian Leary, vice president of design and development of the ATLANTIC STATION® project, “We have long been committed to providing a full range of housing options at ATLANTIC STATION®. This includes a commitment that no less than 25 percent of the total number of housing units within the community will be targeted for families at 80 percent of area median income.”
Leary adds, “We feel that it is important to provide housing options for each and every employee who works at ATLANTIC STATION®. This includes entry-level workers as well as the corporate executive overseeing thousands of employees. The diversity of the residential product offered on-site gives the residents of ATLANTIC STATION® the opportunity to get out of their cars and enhances their quality of life.”
The retail component will include department stores and specialty shops, a grocery store, multiplex theater, restaurants, nightclubs, a hotel, and other such establishments. While these businesses typically emphasize service sector jobs, the entire job spectrum will be represented. Likewise, a wide variety of jobs will exist in the project’s office space.
Transportation planning will benefit both those who commute into the ATLANTIC STATION® development for work or leisure activities and residents who commute elsewhere. Public bus service provides an easy link to the local MARTA train line, and the new 17th Street bridge offers access via a pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane. The landmark yellow bridge connects the community to the Midtown Atlanta neighborhood on the other side of the I-75/I-85 “Downtown Connector.”
Getting things off the ground
In Georgia, the Redevelopment Powers Act (Chapter 44, Title 36) allows for Tax Incremental Financing to provide public finance for redevelopment activities in underdeveloped or blighted areas. Revenues are derived from the increase in the redevelopment area’s ad valorem and/or sales tax levied by the city, county and school system. These revenues are then placed in a special fund that finances redevelopment costs or services bonds issued to finance the project.
Corridor improvements are being funded by Congestion Management and Air Quality (CMAC), federal transportation program STP 33 (C), and U.S. Department of Transportation TEA–21 to provide and/or improve sidewalks, streetscape, and traffic flow. If existing businesses move to the area, their relocation expenses may be provided under all applicable federal, state, and local guidelines if public funds are used to acquire property. While no historic properties are located within the ATLANTIC STATION® boundaries, some exist near the TAD. These properties, which are either listed in the National Register of Historic Places or are City of Atlanta Designated Properties, will be unaffected.
In the redevelopment plan, the Tax Allocation Bond issue will be between $100 and $250 million depending on the evaluation of the bond issuer, federal transportation program STP 33 (C). In accordance with redevelopment proposals, the bond term will be no greater than 25 years or the maximum term permitted by law, and the rate will be determined at the time of issue based on the conditions of the bond market, anticipated development within the redevelopment area, and assessed taxable property value.
Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships
By Sibyl Howell, regional community development manager, and Wayne Smith, community affairs director at the Atlanta Fed.