The city of Sandy Springs has made the decision to hire an architectural design firm to revitalize four under-utilized shopping centers, including North River Shopping Center, Loehmann’s Shopping Center, Northridge Shopping Center, and the former Big Lots shopping center. These underutilized tracts have given the North End a “depressed” look for decades, so we absolutely welcome this redevelopment.
However, we believe it is extremely important, before plans are drawn, that the city implements an affordable housing evaluation and study to fully understand the impact and effects of all the proposed improvements for the North End, as it relates to housing affordability. These projects include the new walking paths, community center, new access to the river and the redeveloped shopping centers. We believe it would be truly naive to look at each of these projects as being isolated from the others, rather than seeing them for what they are — a group of projects under the larger umbrella of redevelopment.
But it doesn’t stop there. We believe it would be disingenuous to pretend that we don’t know what the result of these decisions is going to be.
We’ve already seen the price of rent skyrocketing by 15 to 35% across the city, with no signs of slowing down. Not to mention that property values in Sandy Springs as a whole have skyrocketed. Recently, apartments at Hammond and Peachtree Dunwoody sold for $225,000 per unit for a total of $85 million.
What does this mean?
Put simply, it means that our working families are being priced out of the city. And if we care about keeping our workforce close to employment opportunities then we must do something about it — before it’s too late.
As we have often said, you don’t need to look much farther than recent history to understand what’s going to happen. In just the past 7 years, nearly 1,000 affordable apartment units have been demolished and replaced with market rate housing.
The “Gateway Project” and Provence North displaced approximately 2,500 indivudals, of whom 87% were people of color.
Is this the kind of reputation we want for our city? No. It’s not. And we at Sandy Springs Together think we CAN and SHOULD do much, much better.
Some might argue that the city of Sandy Springs doesn’t have control over what landlords and developers charge for rent, or what they do with their privately owned properties.
However, once again, you don’t have to look far to see what’s possible. In the Brookhaven/Buford Highway zoning, the city implemented an affordable mandate to protect affordable housing for its families.
We call this “addition without subtraction”, and it’s all about preserving, without taking away what’s currently available affordable housing options for our city’s working families, while creating market rate housing options for both home ownership and rentals. We must preserve and protect the workers, and their families, that make our city function each and every day, including our teachers and public safety officers. They are what make our city what it is, and we should do ALL that we can to keep them here.