The conversation we’re having is NOT about whether Sandy Springs should invest in revitalization, but HOW should we invest and whose voices are included.
In fact, revitalization is already here.
New construction of housing is already happening in the North End:
- an 18 townhome community starting at $400,000 each is being built on Colquitt Road at Pitts Road;
- even more townhomes (64) are coming at Roswell Road and Hanover Park Road ;
- the Northridge Vista Apartments, a large 220 unit luxury apartment community, on Northridge Parkway was just completed.
AND , existing older apartment communities are being remodeled; and rents are increasing. In fact there is a $500/month difference between renovated and non-renovated apartments in the same complex. These new investments in the North End clearly show that private development is already occurring without requiring public funds to stimulate it.
But the North End does need public investment.
The residents spoke loudly in the 2018 public meetings as to what they envisioned, expressing strong desires for:
- a community center,
- more easily accessible green space & parks (preferably with more access to the river), and
- more reasonable rents and home ownership options.
Continued growth will happen. The presence of under-utilized parcels of land gives the false impression of “economic stagnation” in the North End; when in reality the causes are essentially “changing times” and populations.
The area, like the rest of the country, is experiencing a revolution in land and space use:
- Mega-shopping areas, such as North Point and Avalon to our north, the expansion of Perimeter retail district; and, the overwhelming popularity of on-line shopping have demonstrated the obsolesce of the older 1950’s & 60’s era “strip shopping model” as are prevalent in the North End.
- The area’s class B & C office space of low-density offices and “industrial parks”, likewise, is outdated with tele-commuting and the demand for class A high rise buildings.
However, these same parcels are choice locations for redevelopment to address today’s and tomorrow’s needs including mixed income housing with mixed uses; continuing the economic resurgence.
Why revitalization is important
The North End Revitalization activity, sponsored by the city, with a community center, parks with access to the River, and other projects are much needed community assets. Making these investments in public projects will simultaneously create market-driven pressure on the current multi-family rental inventory causing increase. This investment coupled with increasing land cost and the ever-increasing cost of new construction magnify the housing issues faced by our city today and in the future.
Although the benefits of revitalization are enormous, the city needs to anticipate the unintended consequences of these investments to both, maximize the benefits and minimize the dangers:
- continued rent increases and intentional lease termination creates displacement of many working families
- resulting in uncontrolled gentrification which multiplies the future impact of displacement
To address these unintended consequences, our city must realize the value of “naturally occurring affordable housing” (NOAH).
- A high demand for rental properties (94% occupancy rate in the North End), coupled with limited public resources to address affordability, means that we must prioritize preservation of this critical resource for our Sandy Springs’ families that work in our city.
- Multi-family residences are a major asset in Sandy Springs and in the North End specifically; they are the homes for 69% of the population. And, are the essential part of our economic success for our businesses.
If these units are lost, they will not be replaced – since 2005 Metro Atlanta has lost more than 10,000 units and is projected to lose another 4,000 by 2019. Continued economic stimulation in the North End needs to occur without adversely impacting the families currently living in the North End.
If the revitalization results in displacements of these residents or loss of available units there will be instability in the community:
- shortage of workers for major business districts,
- increased traffic congestion,
- reduction and disruption in public school enrollment, and
- significant re-balance of socio-economic and racial diversity (presently 68% non-white).