[Opinion] Are condos ruining Atlanta?

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Urbanist, guest columnist, says condos are stunting Atlanta’s urban growth. His solution? Apartments.


UPDATE (July 3) : Are Atlantan’s ready to rent luxury high-rise apartments?

Home ownership, Middle America’s status symbol that ignorantly proclaims “I’ve made it in life,” has undermined Atlanta’s capability to grow into the global urban center that it has the potential to be.

The perverse conception that granite counter-tops, a finished basement, and a Lexus SUV is superior to social interaction, civil cohesion, and progress has taken the most important of all resources – human capital – and diluted it to the point where it’s social contribution is as effective as an education from Kennesaw State.

The urban interpretation of this, which Atlanta has taken to the extreme, is the speculative condo development that plagues what little Atlanta has of an urban core.

Don’t believe me?  Chew on this: 3,800 condo units were added to Atlanta’s skyline between 2004 and 2008.  From 2000 until 2010, the city added 3,529 people.  The math is simple.  Instead of developing urban apartments – dense structures, that house racially, socially, and economically diverse people – the city has allowed the irrationally exuberant development of multiple condo towers, many of which sit largely vacant.

Do many of these units become rentals?  No.  Sure, some, but many don’t due to a variety of issues — pricing and condo board regulations amongst them. And worst of all, condos are segregated housing available to people within a narrow socioeconomic profile and discourage diversity.

So why hasn’t Atlanta created smart development that can bring people into the city core?

The answer is shared between weak politicians and an idle culture stepped in a regressive tradition.  Inertia is the name of the game.  We’re taught that owning a home has merit and renting is for irresponsible louses.  However, the progressive world bucked this thought process well over 100 years ago.  New York City, Paris, London, Singapore – the cities in this world where things happen first, not last – all have a huge supply of apartments, which demand meets head on.

Sure, housing costs are high in these places, but millions who could afford to own outside of the city, choose to rent inside of the city.  Also, these cities aren’t run by politicians who favor front page photo opportunities and cheap alliances over truly valuable development.  If this weren’t true in Atlanta, Atlantic Station and The Gulch redevelopment plan never would have made it to the drawing board.

Can Atlanta make the appropriate change and put itself on the path towards successful, dense, diverse urban growth? — Absolutely.

First, Atlanta needs to focus on the most important asset in any city – the people.  The city can zone and promote development (urban apartments) that integrates these people into dense areas and provides the critical mass of population that creates the necessary demand for local business.

Second, Atlanta needs to use the plethora of vacuous space in prime areas to foster this development into a preexisting urban infrastructure.  No city needs the amount of parking space that Atlanta has.

Third, the city needs to expand its relationships beyond the PR pirates (Daniel, Cousins, Forrest City, etc.) that pillage large swaths of land and build pretty towers that don’t serve the economic interests of the city and its people.

Urbanist

The Urbanist has worked in a variety commercial real estate (investment banking and private equity) spearheading development of sustainable housing in New York City, raising capital for real estate related corporations, and the investment in commercial real estate projects across the country. His passion is city planning, urban design, and sustainable development. Email: Urbanist@whatnowatlanta.com
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mad
9 years ago

Terrible article, seems like it was written by a third grader. Makes no sense and lacks flow. Atlanta is not NYC.

Let me address the two points, I think, you were suggesting:

You want to get rid of parking and bring in and mix lower income housing in to, lets say, Midtown? Thats a no, and a no.

I’m disappointed you posted this article on your website sir. Losing credibility with me……

Uncle Zev
9 years ago

whats wrong with an education from kennesaw state?

CP
9 years ago

This article presents overgeneralizations with little data to back up its claims. It treats the notion of “condo” with an extremely broad brush, as if all developments were identical and identically opposed to issues like diversity. This is just factually incorrect. I get some of the sentiments here–especially the distrust of big developers trying to turn a huge buck. But not all condos in the city are soulless high rises. Many are loftish conversions of properties that were failing or crumbling structures–i.e., adaptive reuse. And many are live-work-play projects promoting greater walkability and environmental values. I think some of the… Read more »

Donald
9 years ago

what an insulting article full of weak minded stereotypical arguments. Quotes like “regressive tradition” and “the progressive world bucked this thought process 100 years ago” and finally “the cities in this world where things happen first, not last” all speak to anger and resentment that the author seems to have for our city and the South in general. Lighten up. The world is driven by supply and demand. If there is demand for additional apartments then someone will step in to fill that need in order to generate profits. City leaders don’t dictate what projects get greenlighted and what doesn’t.… Read more »

JasonH
9 years ago

At the very least, I don’t think KSU teaches apostrophe abuse.

Jungleland2
9 years ago

Stupid article. I would not live downtown ever, espeically not in an apartment. In-town apartments are overpriced, cramped, loud, and not family friendly. My in-town friends get out of apartments and into homes or rental houses as soon as they can. Yes there are too many overpriced condos left over from the pre-real estate crash. hopefully some of these will end up sold at a huge discount. And why the Kennesaw State bashing? ITP snobs annoy me.

kat
9 years ago

I’m not sure the author of this article realizes that many condos ARE apartments – condominium is the legal structure, but most often, the physical structure of the building IS apartments. I live in a condo building (conversion of an early 20th century building) that is a “dense structure, that houses racially, socially, and economically diverse people” in downtown Atlanta – yes, ACTUALLY downtown, not Buckhead or something. And because it’s a condo – so most of us have lived there for more than one year – we’re actually a *community* of diverse people that work together to improve our… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

To address some of the early comments: @Mad – (i) Where in the article did it say “lower income housing”? (ii) Traffic & congestion is a major social and economic problem in Atlanta. Replacing parking (which adds little economic value to the city) with development that brings people into the city, increases commercial demand, and creates a more walkable city would be a great thing. @CP – You’re right, not ALL condos are a bad thing, and adaptive re-use is one of the greatest things a city can do. There are some over-generalizations here, because it isn’t possible to lay… Read more »

Mike
9 years ago

Jungleland2, nobody cares you don’t want to live in an in-town apartment. I’ve lived in one for awhile now and there’s been minimal noise and I don’t need 5,000 square feet of space. I pay more to be able to walk to Piedmont Park, restaurants/bars and MARTA and it’s worth it. To get to the article, I do agree Downtown and Midtown Atlanta could use more apartments (think ones like Post Parkside on 10th and Piedmont or Post Biltmore on W Peachtree, even some mid-rise apartments – 10 to 15 stores – would be good), but I can’t believe you… Read more »

CP
9 years ago

@Urbanist. Credit to you for responding to the critiques posted here. I agree that this is a short article, which has obvious limitations in what you can present. At the same time, short pieces don’t necessarily have to lose a sense of nuance. Your argument would be even more effective if it acknowledged those developments that DO factor in walk-ability, diversity, community, etc. And perhaps if it also acknowledged that apartments aren’t ipso facto representative of such values. It’s all about smart planning, and you’re absolutely right to say that the city does bear some responsibility in not accurately addressing… Read more »

Rick Day
9 years ago

As a business owner and resident in Midtown, I say AMEN. My business needs PEOPLE and I’d rather see a building full of upscale renters than an empty glass box stripped of its copper.

And the Kennesaw State comment is 100% right on target. Who is the most successful KSU grad? *crickets*

Wonder how many of the above folks, um, either make a living off condo’s or have heavy losses invested in their little concrete boxes, within their glass gated communities

Great writer; spot on. Will read future content.

Mike
9 years ago

Also, technically more than 3,000 people moved into the city during the last 10 years. The 3,529 was the net amount. There has been a huge shift in the demographics of the city. For example, over 20,000 white people moved into the city and Hispanic and Asian populations increased as well, although not as large as the white population. However, around 30,000 African Americans moved out of the city (in mostly poor areas in the South and West)… this is why you only get a net of a little over 3,000. Just simply looking at a lot of the balconies… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

1.) Who let the OTPer comment? isn’t there a gardening blog you can follow? 2.) Urbanist, it does seem hidden somewhere beneath your usual misinformed superiority complex there is some sort of half formed point. Nestled in with your off base assumptions on life, humanity and that it REALLY matters where one received their higher education ( a notion that society bucked 25 years ago and most individuals come to realize doesn’t matter after about 26 years of age)is the idea of more urban apartments in Atlanta, which as you mention is sorely needed. You however twist this in your… Read more »

Kevin
9 years ago

It’s like he’s reading from a liberal phrase handbook: “social interaction”, “civil cohesion”, “progress”, “sustainable”. You left out references to social justice– which, of course, is code for “I’m going to take what you take what’s yours and redistribute it to others– usually at the point of a gun.”

I own a condo in Midtown. I pay an enormous amount of tax for the privilege. I’ll let free markets decide if condos or apartments are built.

I want my five minutes back.

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ Mike – The gross number doesn’t really matter. If I give you $1,000,000, but require you to return $999,997 of them to me, does that make you a very wealthy person? Shifting demographics (and the subsequent sterilization that it tends to bring in Atlanta) isn’t a good thing either. Way to go on your first comment too…essentially agreeing with me, and then bashing the author of the site for allowing me to write an article you agree with. @ CP – Thanks. The KSU is a generalization/stereotype that, while I’m sure isn’t true for every single graduate to walk… Read more »

9 years ago

I kind of agree with Urbanist. I’m in property management for an intown, luxury high-rise. Most of our homeowners own multiple homes and are only here a few days out of the month. Even the homeowners that use their condo as their primary residence add nothing to the neighborhood.

The renters that we have tend to be young and are always staying busy (not always in a good way).

9 years ago

Interesting article (despite the smackdown of my school KSU). My wife and I are committed urbanists and we go back and forth on the rent vs. buy thing. We had a really bad experience in selling a ViHi condo when we needed more space for our kid and it informed our decision to become renters so we could stay in the walkable intown area we love. We rent an apartment in a condo building downtown and I sometimes get the feeling that we’re looked at as second-class residents among intowners because of our renter status. But the truth is that… Read more »

Nigel Jones
9 years ago

Over the years, Atlanta will be able to handle more condos. If we’re too hasty to get a more dense Atlanta by adding too many apartments, then the Atlanta that will exist by the time the Beltline is finished, and the streetcars are functional, and the Midtown Mile is more successful will be a transient one who’s not invested in the city.

And apartments already exist ITP.

JT
9 years ago

Yes, actually, kids that go to private schools like Yale or Stanford and pay for it out of pocket are throwing their money away, fact, its becoming a more and more accepted notion. Atlanta’s power structure is dominated by folks from UGA, Auburn, GA State, and yes Kennessaw, are you going to sit here now and say they are somehow less qualified or less prepared than someone that paid for a name on their college sweatshirt? Because that, actually, is the dumbest thing I will ever read. With the way professors now move from school to school, many of them… Read more »

Bobby
9 years ago

Right on Urbanist. But I think the commenters prove why the city is so ass-backwards. It’s not just politicians or developers, it’s the average Atlantan holding their city back.

Mike
9 years ago

Actually Urbanist it does matter, because most of the 20,000 plus people that moved into the city moved into areas where these new apartments and condo buildings were built. The people that left were in poorer areas to the south and west in mostly single family homes or in housing projects that were knocked down. And with Atlanta being a majority black city for a long time, it’s about time we got some racial diversity here. If adding white, Hispanic and Asian people is considered sterile then you really are an idiot. And I only agreed with you on needing… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

Resulting to insults, which unfortunately I have let you reduce me to as well does nothing to improve or advance your argument especially when YOU are the author of the actual article. It is beyond unprofessional and I unfortunately expected more from this site. I work for a LARGE brokerage here in town and will make damn sure we stop spreading this site around the office as a good source of CRE “news”.

Donald
9 years ago

@Donald – The progressive world did buck these trends well over 100 years ago. The continuing economics around apartment living in the cities I mentioned (and many others) support that. Unless you’re trying to tell me that you don’t consider NYC, Paris, Hong Kong, etc. progressive cities? —————- You didn’t seem to grasp my point. I wasn’t arguing about the measure of progressiveness of NYC, Paris or Hong Kong. My point was that your tone in the article is condescending and negative and I used three direct quotes to make my point. If you don’t think there are enough apartments,… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

A few good points and a few not so good points. The good points were tainted by very apparent griping and a very apparent chip on your shoulder towards a school and a few developers. I think on the surface your population analogy sounds good, but while the overall population of the city of Atlanta barely changed, Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods saw an absolute surge in population and a huge spike in median household income. Neither the population increase nor the surge in income were enough to completely feed the condo boom (which was truly a boom like no other… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

I can only hope Mr. Toro realizes he should find another forum to engage this community, like sticking to Facebook and twitter. Being a part of a site who’s contributors are resulting to name calling of the area residents and insinuating that we are all “idiots” for our chosen lifestyles to own condos is a great way to ruin all the traction and trust he has gained with the neighborhood.

James
9 years ago

I like how all of Urbanists’ proposed “solutions” involve direct Government involvment, and not the free market. Urbanist, go sell your social agenda somewhere else.

Condos are not the cause of class warefare, and apartments are not the solution.

JT
9 years ago

Also Urbanist’s credentials should really be looked in to. If he really is a CRE veteran than the exchange he had with an exec from Daniel corp on the “Midtown Patch” site is especially troubling because he showed an absolute lack of understanding on the notion of highest and best use. In a dialog about rental apartments at 12th and Midtown Urbanist was completely oblivious to why Daniel has designated their Crescent st. parcel for this use and not a prominent Peachtree st. address. This is especially worrisome if he is indeed from the financial sector of the industry as… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

What do you expect James? I’ve also seen him advocate the “mixed income” developments like the apartments at Lindbergh Center. I was scared just going on a tour of the property. I’m sorry, its not classist or racist to not be ok with paying $1800/month for an apartment right next to a family with section 8 paying $600 for the same apartment. Show me some folks in your mecca of progressive thought, Manhattan, willing to do that.

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ Kevin – Do you take issue with social interaction, civil cohesion, and progress? And, can you please point to where I used the word “socialism” in this essay? Maybe you should get back to hanging your KSU diploma up. @ JT – You can go ahead and maintain the opinion that ivy league educations are inferior (or comparable) to those of KSU, or Auburn, or GSU. I’ll let the alumni from each these institutions speak for themselves. Just to point out, I didn’t go to an ivy league school. However, I have spent a lot of time around a… Read more »

Mike
9 years ago

Urbanist, since you can’t refute what I’m saying, you switch the argument to how “segregated” Atlanta is… like NYC isn’t segregated. Give me a break. Just because all different kinds of people are walking on the street together doesn’t mean they all live next to each other in NY. Go to a regular old bar in Manhattan and tell me how diverse that crowd is (pretty much all white), or a bar in Harlem and tell me how diverse it is (pretty much all black). I’ve lived in NYC too so don’t try and fool other people on here into… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

Urbanist, Class A office space is doing ok in Atlanta, relatively speaking, and that’s what 1075 Peachtree is. It signed on several high profile tenants pretty quickly, including Fisher & Phillips and PWC. I do think that the 12th and Midtown development is one of the top 3 developments in the city of Atlanta over the past decade in terms of positive impact. It’s pretty hard to deny that and we have Daniel/Selig/Rule Joy Trammell & Rubio and others to thank. I have a view of 1010 Midtown, as well, and I have seen the number of lights on at… Read more »

MCB
9 years ago

I say take the 20% of the low income people you want to live in mixed income house and send them to Kennesaw State for an education. I’m sure they can afford the rent in an apartment there. I sure as hell don’t want them in my building. There is a reason I pay what I do to have a nice home and nice amenities. I have never read an article where the author is such and a-hole when responding to criticism about his writing. This author has no credibility and lost my interest in the article when he bashed… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

Mike, I’m directly refuting what you’re saying. I’m telling you that having a bunch of people move into the city (while a near equivalent number of them move out), doesn’t necessarily make for positive news. Also, you’re “median income is growing and that’s great” claim, isn’t entirely truthful. Here’s a statistic for you, from Claritas & the government: Median Income Increases btw 2000 – 2011, for the 1, 3, & 5 mile radius of the zip code 30309 were 3%, 2.4%, & 2.1%, respectively. Annual CPI over the past 11 years has averaged at 2.47%. So the reality is that… Read more »

Inman Parker
9 years ago

I agree that midtown and downtown would benefit from more apartments ( I had trouble finding one in midtown when I moved here in 2007). What is with the KSU jab? I have no connection to KSU, but it came across as very childish to me.

JT
9 years ago

I’d like to know how many Section 8 residents live in Urbanist’s building. Also its a pretty widely know statistic that our major cities are actually the most segregated. Go to the north side of Chicago and tell me how many black people you see, zero. In many ways due to us having an extremely educated and affluent African-American population compared to nearly ANY other city we are actually more integrated than most because we aren’t race and income aren’t nearly as tied in Atlanta as it is elsewhere.

JT
9 years ago

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-segregated-cities-in-america-2011-3#2-new-york-city-ny-has-a-769-white-black-dissimilarity-score-21

Go through the list and note what major city isn’t there…I’ll give you a hint it starts with “A”. Please just this once admit being wrong about at least this one thing. I know this site puts the disclaimer that it is opinion based, but there is a difference between opinion and fabrication. Speaking in relative terms Atlanta is not segregated.

mad
9 years ago

Caleb-

You need to remove this clown and post from your site before you lose your followers.

This kind of garbage shouldn’t be tolerated on your website. You had begun to gain some credibility, especially with Midtown residents, as you’ve had some great news/discussions on Atlantic Station and surrounding neighborhoods.

You have some great material on this site, but crap like this makes me want to never check in again.

Stewey Baker
9 years ago

Ick. This is so badly written that I didn’t finish the article.

mypitboss
9 years ago

This article was an entertaining read, but really too batsh*t to refute. You want higher density? You want local governments to heavily restrict what is built by land owners? You want to mix section 8 housing in with full-paying apartment dwellers?

I don’t ever want to live in that horrible world of yours.

frankly
9 years ago

Is this is the same dude that keeps posting the same tripe over at CL’s blog? The city grew by WAY more than 3,529 people. The Census clearly drastically under-counted the city’s population PERIOD.

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ Pitboss – “My world” (higher density, mixed income housing, and gov’t control of permitting and zoning) is part of the template for pretty much every major city on the planet. @ Frankly – Glad you’re a more reliable source than the people who actually did the counting. Thanks for clearing that up. So, it seems that there are a lot of people who don’t quite understand the notion of “mixed income housing”. One of the types of housing I described was 80/20 housing, where 20% of a buildings tenants don’t meet the AMI. Well, if the AMI of midtown… Read more »

UghNotHim
9 years ago

If you have any sense or desire to be credible you’ll never allow this “person” to post on your site again. I would even ban his nonsense from posting comments. Also, don’t think that because this post is generating lots of comments that that means it is a good thing. Your readership is speaking out and letting you know that this post isn’t what is wanted on this site.

mypitboss
9 years ago

. I understand you find those appealing. I think you’re the only one.

mypitboss
9 years ago

By the way, for those of you who disagree with Urbanist (I definitely do), you might want to consider that this was pretty interesting. Who would think that a guy could write an article about ZONING that would piss so many of us off. ZONING!!!

Caleb: you seem to be putting together a nice stable of columnists. Maybe you could make a separate section for commentary from this guy, Mark Toro, the Weinstock guy, etc. I think some people were ticked that this piece was presented as a normal update. If it were in a commentary section, then why not?

Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  mypitboss

hi mypitboss! thanks for your comment. you hit the nail right on the head. these “guest” posts are strictly opinion based to get conversations started about atlanta — we don’t expect everyone to agree — rather, we’d like to see opposing views.

your suggestion about sectioning off these pieces will be taken into consideration, so thanks for sharing and participating.

–cjs

Urbanist
9 years ago

@Pitboss – If you think this article is about zoning, then you missed the entire point. Of course, you’re the same guy who can’t stomach the idea of living in a building with someone who makes half as much money, so it’s to be expected. There are also, as many people here have agreed, some very salient points in what I wrote – primary being that dense apartment development would be a positive thing for the urban area of Atlanta. Now, you may not like me; a lot of people don’t. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m an as*hole… Read more »

Rick
9 years ago

Very poor quality writing. Agggh, not even worth explaining myself to the author.

Mypitboss
9 years ago

: yup. I can’t stomach people being subsidized while I pay full price. It leads to a degradation of the property value. Even as a renter, it makes for bad things. Subsidized housing punishes full payers.

I still think you deserve a place on this blog. I think your ideas are insane, though.

ErrrrBanist?
9 years ago

I was drawn to the little tete-a-tete between Urbanist and Mike regarding demographic shifts and census data. Maybe people should just read the data themselves to see how the numbers have shifted.

Here is a start:

http://projects.nytimes.com/census/2010/map?hp

And yeah, I have to say, if Urbanist is going to be a regular contributor, he needs to work on his diplomacy. The personal attacks against people who disagree with him are more than a little untoward – even for a blog.

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

Urbanist, I will say that I live in perhaps the most mixed building in Midtown. 1280 West, all 40 floors of it, ranges from a rapper, country music star, wealthy young professionals and retirees, to downright hood. I just graduated college in December myself, but I can’t wait to move into a nice upper floor condo in a newer building with thicker walls, on average cleaner cut residents, less noise, less problems, and less building drama. I always think to myself that if I were paying over $2500/month for a unit in Midtown Atlanta, it sure as hell wouldn’t be… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

And one more thing, I haven’t the slightest clue where you get your data, but where I get mine I see that Midtown and some of the surrounding neighborhoods are the fastest growing areas in the perimeter, and are posting some of the fastest median household and average household income gains in the metro. My empirical evidence is that since I came to Atlanta in 2006, Midtown has seen an explosion of home renovations (quality), Spire, Viewpoint, Aqua, 1010, and a host of other mid-upper end developments sprout up. Even after Aqua lowered its prices and gave out Minis and… Read more »

James
9 years ago

Urbanist, I can only assume you are someone who received a lot of “Participant” ribbons as a child. I don’t know. Somewhere along the way, though, you decided that you were the smartest man in the room. Ironically, the “smartest man in the room” never actually is. What I do know is this: (a) you’re happy to talk down to people – as long as you don’t have to reveal your real name; (b) you’re happy to make fun of local colleges – as long as you don’t have to reveal where you attended school; (c) you’re happy to provide… Read more »

Inman Parker
9 years ago

Most people from this blog probably agree with some of the thoughts in the article, but all they can focus on is the fact that the writer come across as condescending. That should be a lesson for the author that if they really want people to take their ideas seriously showing respect is probably a good start. It is okay to disagree and be respectful at the same time. I agree that renters could help create the type of lively environment that Midtown and Downtown Atlanta need, but I would like to point out that New York city (you mentioned… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ Simmons – A little quick math: If a condo sells for $275k (splitting the difference between your figure of $200-$350k), and you’re required to, at minimum, put down 3.5%, your mortgage on the property is $265,375. Assuming a 30 year loan, and a 4.625% interest rate (pulled off Wells Fargo’s site for 30yr FHA loans), your monthly mortgage is $1,365. Add on another $400 for taxes and insurance (this is probably low). You’re now at $1,765 in monthly payments. Now, the average lease term is 12 months, and a lot of people who rent (myself included) do so, because… Read more »

Allison Wunderland
9 years ago

I’m a fan of Urbanist, but what do I know? I graduated from KSU.

kat
9 years ago

“Now, the average lease term is 12 months, and a lot of people who rent (myself included) do so, because they like to have the capability to be mobile. If I tire of my neighborhood, I can leave; If I decide to move to another city, I don’t have to wait to sell my home, etc.” If you decide something isn’t perfect in your neighborhood, you leave. And THIS was my point above about why condos are actually better for a neighborhood/city. When you live in a condo, you’ll actually do something to improve your area instead of leaving after… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ Kat – I disagree with the notion that renters don’t get involved in their community. However, in order to do so, there has to be a community to get involved with. Because apartments are short-term (at least more-so than condos), they bring people into a neighborhood with far greater ease. However, for condos to be truly appealing, there already has to be a community there that people find desirable enough to decide to own. Once you have a critical mass of people, you have a sense of community that anyone (renter or owner) will attach themselves to. The point… Read more »

esp
9 years ago

You clearly dont know much about whats going on outside Midtown, so lets be clear this article is only about Midtown and not about “Atlanta” which includes neighborhoods like Castleberry Hills/Cabbagetown/Reynoldstown/Kirkwood/Candler Park/the thousand other areas in Atlanta where high rise condo’s are not an issue. Midtown needs more apartments. Okay. What do you want the city to do about it? The city cant selectively encourage apartments over condo’s. The land is already zoned for high-density residential. There are already affordable housing bonuses included in the zoning for several areas. The tax burden in Atlanta isnt anywhere near high enough that… Read more »

esp
9 years ago

And you complain about parking, and especially surface parking lots, but surface parking lots are clearly prohibited in zoning for new developments and if you had attended any DRC meeting in the past 10 years you would know that its something taken very seriously. Until the current surface parking lots are bought and developed, they will be there. This has nothing to do with the city.

JT
9 years ago

Kat I brought that point up nearly 24 hours ago, Urbanist likes to say there have been no factual arguments made to the contrary when in reality he just doesn’t acknowledge any arguments made that discredit his own. I also presented him with statistical facts from a third party source that shows that his “progressive utopia” NYC is in fact one of the most segregated and racist cities on this planet. I can back this up not only with statistics which I showed him, but with first hand knowledge since my family has lived in NYC since 1953, and many… Read more »

kat
9 years ago

@JT – yeah, he ignored my 10:13 yesterday morning comment about my community (downtown) where we are mostly condo owners but are a pretty diverse group (even economically – imagine that – two buildings within a few blocks can satisfy that requirement!) and are all fairly involved in making the neighborhood a better place. In general, the renters are Georgia State students who aren’t particularly interested in getting involved because they don’t plan on staying.

esp
9 years ago

“Second, Atlanta needs to use the plethora of vacuous space in prime areas to foster this development into a preexisting urban infrastructure.” Atlanta has a ‘plethora of vacuous space in prime areas’ because land prices are low compared to NYC/Chicago/etc.. If you own an underdeveloped lot in midtown that can sell for $1.5million and is appraised by the city at $600,000 (realistic numbers for an empty lot), then the revenue from making it a parking lot will more than pay for the taxes. And land prices have risen fairly significantly in the last 25 years, and owning land is a… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ ESP – Most of the direction of my commentary is directed towards the “urban area” of Atlanta. By that I meant, primarily Midtown & Downtown, as they are somewhat linked together, and have an infrastructure (short blocks, grid system of streets, etc.) that are distinctively urban. I’m sorry if you took it to mean that every inch of Atlanta proper is plagued by condo development – as that’s not the intent. However, the city can selectively encourage apartment development over condos – tax credits/abatements certainly can be enough of a catalyst to encourage development of these projects as well.… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

@esp, I’m not sure where he’s from but he doesn’t seem to have a very good handle on the reality in any city he talks about. I hope that this site takes it’s self more seriously than to take delight in the sheer number of comments and recognizes that the volume is out of disgust not approval. All of us read this blog anyway, you didn’t get anyone new from this you just alienated and offended the followers you do have. It’s fine to include your followers as guest columnists even misinformed ones but you should require they can have… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

http://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/u-s-2010-census-the-10-most-segregated-cities-in-america/ http://www.thechicago77.com/2009/01/chicago-is-americas-most-segregated-city/ http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/31/where-are-the-top-10-most-segregated-cities/ Here you go, now I’ve presented 4 different sources. How can you claim segregation in Atlanta when I go on Boulevard one of the most dangerous streets in America to go to a Whole Foods, 82 nights a year 40,000 people go into one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the South and tailgate and attend baseball games. Vine City where the dome is located is one of the most impoverished areas in the country. O4W, L5p, Virginia Highlands, East Atlanta, Castleberry Hill all back up and run into majority African American and low income neighborhoods where… Read more »

esp
9 years ago

(i) providing incentives (tax credits/abatements), –Already provided by the ADA. (ii) calling on developers to build on parking lots Oh my god!! What an idea!! Yes, why didnt we think of this before! Why dont we build on underdeveloped parking lots! Ohmygod, I must not have seen this through my KSU education (not really, but seriously, this is your idea?)… (iii) for the city to develop more numerous relationships with smaller developers who can add to the mix. Who is the city? Are you talking about city council? There are a number of developers throughout the city who have projects… Read more »

esp
9 years ago

Wait I figured it out, how to make Atlanta the best city in the world. 1) The city needs to replace all the surface parking lots in Midtown with ultra dense apartments through tax credits and encouragement of small developers (just encourage them to develop those parking lots!). 2) The city needs to develop all the abandoned and poorly maintained properties in the Bluffs through tax credits and encouragement of small developers (just encourage them to develop those condemned properties). 3) The city needs to revitalize Downtown by providing tax credits and encouraging small developers (just encourage them to develop… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ JT – Are you serious? Just because Atlanta isn’t in the top 10 most segregated cities, you think that’s a testament to our integration? And are you really going to try to tell me that, because people go to baseball games and football games, that we’re an integrated city!? P.S. there isn’t a Whole Foods on Boulevard. @ ESP: (i) I’m not saying that there has never been a tax credit deal provided by the city of Atlanta. I’m saying they could use more of them to spur development of apartments in urban areas. It’s an idea that a… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

He still is not seeming to understand that the city can have all the the relationships they want and offer tax credits all day long but the numbers still wouldn’t work for a small developer to develop a small scale project on Peachtree or any other main road in Midtown. Even in this economy the only ones that can make a rental project work on Peachtree are the big boys like Daniel or AMLI.

esp
9 years ago

Building on idle land is an idea? That’s what developers already do. That’s the whole idea of “development.” You’re the one that’s acting like the smartest guy in the room, and your big suggestion that you think no one ever thought of before is “building on idle land,” which is the definition of development. Why do you think those lots are called “underdeveloped” in the first place? Wait, urbanist, I have an idea for ending world hunger. Why dont we just grow more food, and then we can ship it to the people that dont have food? Thats an idea… Read more »

esp
9 years ago

What would you do to increase affordable housing in Atlanta, particularly in District 6 (including Midtown)? What is your definition or concept of affordable housing? AZIZI: (Inclusionary zoning.) “My definition of affordable housing… is that a household does not pay more than 30% of its annual income for housing. Today many households are burdened with paying around 50% or more of their incomes for their homes.” “The development of an inclusionary zoning law is one possible solution to increasing affordable housing in Atlanta. This is a concept that has been implemented in several cities in the United States. The ordinance… Read more »

Urbanist
9 years ago

@ ESP – If you agree that the city needs more apartments, then what the F*ck are you arguing about? That was the entire concept of the piece! I’m well aware that you can’t “force” developers to build apartments, and I never suggested that. Where in the comment “the city pays a market rate” do I make any mention of forcing land owners to sell to the city? If the city pays a “market rate” (you are aware of what that means, right?), that means that whomever sold, did so at their own choosing. It’s also completely in the realm… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

Where do you suggest a city who already can’t cover their financial obligations get the money to purchase land at market rates?

mypitboss
9 years ago

@JT: Well, they’re going to get less property tax income this year I bet. Also, they’re already trying to raise sales tax by 1% to pay for transportation improvements. Options are limited.

If we have to subsidize any sort of real estate, maybe we should give big tax breaks for some of that empty office space. That would fill up some condos.

Then we get the “community” feeling. Parking lots are full. More density. Everybody happy! Even Urbanist.

Midtown Resident
9 years ago

I have both rented and bought (and now live in) a Condo in Midtown. I graduated from a top (Ivy League Level) school in the country but have nothing against KSU. I grew up in NY and lived in NYC. I do not believe in the article’s views. People in the rental complex in Midtown did not care for the neighborhood or the property. In the 3 to 4 years I lived there, the place became run down and no one was involved in Midtown. I bought my condo at Spire before it was built for considerably more than it… Read more »

Nika
9 years ago

I’m a renter in East Altanta. I would love to live in Midtown and I am making plans to do so, with limited options. I agree that Midtown needs more apartments. I have read all the comments and I think people are uncomfortable with article because because of misinterpretations. As Urbanist stated: Mixed income or even lower income does not mean- I don’t work. Any income is a wage, people who have a wage go to work- are being productive-adding to community. Just because someone makes $10,000 less (or whatever amount) than another does not mean they are worthless or… Read more »

JT
9 years ago

Ii’m not sure what city on Earth you would find a decent large apartment for less than $900/month, Birmingham maybe? Chattanooga? Anyway, its not a a race issue and its not a classist issue, its a common sense issue. The same common sense issue raised when it comes to socialist programs that people who support them can’t seem to understand, let me lay this out. Someone works very hard for their money, in a job they don’t love but it allows them to live a life they enjoy. They bust their a** to pay for a great shiny new apartment,… Read more »

Johnny Simmons
9 years ago

Midtown Resident, Thank you! I agree with all of your points. It is cheaper to own a condo in Atlanta than to rent an equivalent one. That’s fact in today’s local economic climate. When you can find a beautiful luxury condo in the Four Seasons for $275K and the same condo can rent out for between $2500-3000 or more, then you know it’s time to buy. kat, I agree. Renters on average care a lot less about their neighborhood than owners, and frankly renters are often not the best neighbors and not the best for area appreciation. Nika, Eh, not… Read more »

ESP
9 years ago

Where in the comment “the city pays”Where in the comment “the city pays a market rate” do I make any mention of forcing land owners to sell to the city? If the city pays a “market rate” (you are aware of what that means, right?), that means that whomever sold, did so at their own choosing. ” Maybe you dont know what eminent domain means, but its when the city pays a “market value” and the property owner sells the land involuntarily. You didnt mention whether you meant voluntarily or involuntarily, so I addressed both situations. Property owners can already… Read more »

Nika
9 years ago

Wow, JT and Johnny you guys must pull in six figure salaries. I DO NOT! OH my post is “Eh, not a very productive post I don’t think”. Well the post is about apartments in the city and the discussion extended to location and mix use communities if you were following the discussion (John). I said “didn’t cost over $900 rough estimate- the idea is not more than half of a paycheck.” Again rough estimate. I don’t know very many people who pay over $1200 for a 1bed 1bath rental. I dont know if you guys are bragging or what.… Read more »

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