Published on July 7th, 2015 |0
Second Ponce Church to demolish its E. Wesley apartment units
The primary reasons are the Garden Hills units need maintenance that the church can’t afford and the high cost of property taxes that come with an upscale Buckhead address.
Second Ponce purchased the apartments in the late ’80s and early 2000s for potential expansion opportunities, says Jeff Miller, the church’s administrator.
According to the church’s campus map, Second Ponce de Leon owns all of the properties along East Wesley Road between Peachtree Road and West Bolling Way, several of which are multi-family residences and one of which is listed as a Missionary House.
In March, church officials requested a home inspector review the units. The results shocked them. So did the subsequent estimates to repair the roof. Bringing all the units up to code would cost roughly $500,000, Miller told Creative Loafing.
Church leaders decided to demolish the buildings and exit a business they “never intended to be in” rather than pay to maintain the structures, according to the Creative Loafing report.
In April residents received 60 days notice to vacate their homes. Once a contractor is picked and permits issued, the buildings will be demolished and the land turned into green space. The church
covered the tenants’ June rent and offered extensions due to the July Fourth holiday.
For $1,100 a month, a tenant was able to call home a two-bedroom unit on East Wesley Road in the middle of Atlanta’s most affluent community, Buckhead, where the city estimates only 4 percent of the current rental housing is considered affordable. A nearby studio goes for the same monthly rate, according to the Creative Loafing article.
The razing of Second Ponce’s 16 apartments follows demolitions of other affordable Buckhead complexes, leaving mostly pricy developments.
According to Dawn Luke, the housing finance director of Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, only 1,170 of Buckhead’s 30,000 existing rental units fall under the federal government’s definition of affordable, according to the Creative Loafing article.
Luke told Creative Loafing developers are taking advantage of the market — and tapping tax incentives that don’t require building affordable units. The Development Authority of Fulton County, which does not require affordability, provided incentives to six Buckhead projects totaling 2,263 units from 2012 to 2015.
Invest Atlanta requires developers who seek incentives to include a percentage of affordable housing. But developers are not required to do so in their projects, according to the Creative Loafing article.
Invest Atlanta has created a housing strategy aimed at making it easier for people from all socioeconomic levels to move to — or stay in — parts of Atlanta that are becoming increasingly unaffordable.
Potential solutions include inclusionary zoning and focusing affordable housing in targeted areas. Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council must approve the plan.
But Creative Loafing article points out those discussions, which will begin later this year, won’t do anything to immediately ease the affordability crunch in Buckhead.
(To read the full Creative Loafing article, click here.)