Atlanta’s version of the High Line sparks gentrification fears

City's mayor warns homeowners along newest section not to sell their properties

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the BeltLine (credit: Wikimedia Commons, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.)
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the BeltLine (credit: Wikimedia Commons, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.)

Atlanta is struggling with an affordable-housing problem around its version of the High Line.

The BeltLine – a 22-mile trail looping around the city following former rail corridors – has largely become the focal point of the gentrification debate in the city, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The first section opened on the Eastside of the city six years ago, bringing with it new condominiums, apartment buildings, restaurants and stores.

But after the city announced Aug. 8 that it had paid $6.3 million to buy another 1.8 miles of former rail corridor for the next phase on the Westside, the city’s mayor warned homeowners about getting pushed out.

“I told them, ‘If you live on the Westside of Atlanta, do not sell your property right now,’” she said during an interview.

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Between 2014 and 2018, median home prices in metro Atlanta climbed about 49 percent. But in the two ZIP codes covering most of the Westside’s West End area, figures from Attom Data Solutions show median home prices for single-family homes jumped 54 percent, the Journal reported. Median prices for condominiums skyrocketed 110 percent.

Atlanta now owns 80 percent of the property it needs to complete the BeltLine project, which is funded by government agencies, nonprofit donors and a special district where a portion of property taxes go toward improvements in the area. The BeltLine is scheduled to be finished by 2030.

But officials are under criticism for not delivering enough affordable units along the pathway.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. interim CEO Clyde Higgins – who took over the role after the former CEO was ousted over the lack of affordable housing – said the project is “absolutely behind” on the number of affordable units pledged.

The area around the project is supposed to have 10,000 units by 2020, but so far it only has about 2,600. [WSJ] – Rich Bockmann

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