Apartment Developers Looking For Locations to Build All Over Decatur

A recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle is a treasure trove of inside info on the potential for new apartments around Decatur.  The full story is behind a firewall, but Michael was good enough to give us the gist of the full article.  Of particular note…

  • The Bank of America project at Commerce and Clairemont has “all but fallen apart” according to the Chronicle.
  • Another smaller 150 unit mixed-use apartment development behind the Fidelity Bank building (on the Commerce curve) is much closer to coming to fruition.  In fact, according to the ABC, the site is already under contract.
  • 315 West Ponce (aka Decatur Court) is also still being looked at by developers, but they are aware of potential parking issues with developing the site.
  • Trinity Triange is also again “drawing interest” from developers.

With so many potentials, it seems likely that sooner or later, apartments will soon be popping up SOMEWHERE in Decatur.

64 thoughts on “Apartment Developers Looking For Locations to Build All Over Decatur”


  1. Not sure I understand the motivation behind the recent consensus that we “need” more apartments. I can list several negatives to adding apartments, with the burden on our schools with the increased density being the first. Increased traffic being another. And I won’t even go into the arguments which will undoubtedly be classified as classist or elitist, despite the merits of those arguments. That being said, I am “all ears” as my grandmother used to say, and would like to hear the arguments in support of adding apartments.

    1. More people (renters or mortgage payers) equals more people to support existing businesses in Decatur. These apartment developments would create a denser downtown area, which would hopefully help support more diverse businesses such as small grocers or produce shops. A walkable city needs these. Walking to a business district that consists mostly of restaurants and bars is great, but walking to a dense downtown that offers all or most services/shops that people need would be even better.

      1. Agreed GreenTea. I have friends moving to Atlanta who desperately wanted to be in downtown Decatur and there’s literally nothing for rent. We checked all the condos for rental units. That blows my mind working in commercial real estate. There is demand for at least a couple mid-rise Class A for-rent properties in downtown Decatur and they would command high rents. Just a matter of time.

        Apartment properties pay very healthy property taxes so there’s apple benefit to the county/city for the addition influx into local schools. They are typically viewed as a big cash cow for cities.

        1. “Apartment properties pay very healthy property taxes so there’s apple benefit to the county/city for the addition influx into local schools. They are typically viewed as a big cash cow for cities.”

          Apartment complexes do have large tax bills. But, I have always understood that the property tax per housing unit is far less than single family residences. So, apartments may be a net loss for the school system (being a cash cow for the city is not necessarily the same as being a net gain or a wash for the school system). I guess it largely depends on the proporation of units with children..

          1. All is hypothetical and guesses at this point, of course, but more often than not, rental apartments draw less school age children than other forms of housing.

            That said, the quality of Decatur’s schools might skew this.

            Another aspect is that city hall takes the idea of economic diversity pretty seriously, and I’ve heard it said that they’d like to have “cradle to grave” housing options. The twenty-something demo is a pretty big hole in that goal, and development such as this would help that.

            1. “That said, the quality of Decatur’s schools might skew this.”

              That pretty well sums up my primary concern. Every person I hear about desperately trying to move into the city is doing so for the schools.

                1. Is there a typical number of bedrooms for the units with kids? Is it larger apartments or are kids showing up in the 1-2 bedrooms also?

                2. Wow. This substantiates what I’ve been noticing anecdotally from my kids’ friends. A fair amount of kids are living in apartments and a fair amount of apartments have kids. One cannot assume that apartments mean tax revenue without per pupil costs for CSD.

          2. “Apartment complexes do have large tax bills. But, I have always understood that the property tax per housing unit is far less than single family residences.”

            Single Family gets homestead exemptions and thus pays less taxes per dollar of housing value.

            1. The relevent analysis is actual tax dollars and not taxes paid per dollar value. Paying taxes on 40% of $300k is still more than paying taxes on 100% of $100k. So, per household, are apartments on equal or similar footing with SFR? If not, they may place a burden on the school system. Not saying this is the only concern (it’s not) – just that the finaincial strain, if any, on the schools needs to be given a lot of weight, especially given the recent enrollment spike and growing potential for overcrowded schools.

              1. So I’m more important and valuable because I have a more expensive house? Well I do think I more important and valuable than most people but I’m not sure that holds up here. SF takes up more land, is never sprinklered and can support more school age children. Bottom line is we need apartments.

                1. That is not at all what I am saying, and this has nothing to do with who is more important. We need to apply the same analysis to constructing apartments as we do to annexation – is the proposal going to place an unsustainable financial burden on the schools? Although noone wants to admit it, if our schools become overcrowded and undesirable, it is going to negatively effect all of us. Your bottom line is an opinion, and not one that I share.

                  1. Here’s my answer relative to the analysis you suggest: No. The type of apartments proposed will not result in a flood of school kids. And they will probably be too expensive for those dirty freeloading 47%’ers. Let’s move on.

                    1. Some people fear a big impact on the schools from such projects, other don’t. Fortunately, we don’t need to compete over our gut sense of things. The fact is that these are easy numbers to track, and we should be tracking them and updating year by year. With the current pressure on the schools, this is a very legitimate question to raise and keep raising. It’s the city’s DUTY to raise it and keep raising each time, and to work with CSD to collect and track the data.

                    2. +1 on collecting and tracking data. Should be easy to take addresses from student database and match against where multi-unit residences are located., no?

    2. If you look closely at the plans for the apartments that have been proposed, such as the BOA property that now looks DOA, it is clear that the city is pushing for 1 bedroom apartments from developers. 75% of the BOA apartments in that project were 1 bedroom or studio. This is probably for parking too,but I doubt there will be a big school effect from the apartments. Like it or not, even though they don’t say it, it is obvious the city wants to bring in commercial businesses and residents who will not go to CSD, but who will spend money and support local businesses.

      This is a good fiscal approach, but there will be some negative externalties. Traffic will be worse. Also, I have a feeling that if Decatur adds a lot of apartments, it could become a big singles/bar scene with all the street parking and late-night noise that brings.

      1. Singles scene? Hell yeah, bring it on! Just in time for my mid-life crisis!

        [Guess we’ll see tonight if Mrs. J_T still reads DM regularly]

      2. I don’t really see Decatur becoming a singles scene based on the existing places that pass for nightlife here. The kind of “scene” you’re afraid of developing doesn’t usually happen without a variety of the kinds of large danceclubs/live music venues that 20-somethings like to frequent, and Decatur has, what– Eddie’s Attic?

        I, on the other hand, would welcome a bit more variety in the nightlife here, as well as more retail. I worry more about Decatur becoming a homogenous, intown Alpharetta-type burb than I do about overcrowded schools. Not saying I don’t care about the schools, but I think we stand to lose a lot of what makes us special if we focus only on whether Decatur is a “family friendly” place to live.

        1. I don’t fear Decatur will become Buckhead, but it could become Virginia Highlands on steroids because there wouldn’t be just one strip of bars/pubs, but several. This may be appealing to some, but the weekend nights might not be as quiet as they used to be for those living around the city center.

          1. Decatur’s commercial areas (especially downtown) aren’t really set up to accommodate the kind of entertainment spread that the main drag of the intersect between Va-Hi/Atkins Park/Midtown has. IMO, some additional weekend noise & traffic would be a small price to pay to avoid having Decatur devolve from a fairly cosmopolitan, “something for everyone” little city to a “roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-9-pm-family&child-centric” bedroom community where people have to go (and spend) elsewhere for their serious shopping & entertainment.

      3. So quickly do they forget. Decatur Social Club, My Sister’s Room, Paris… all were late-night dance clubs for 20-somethings that were driven out of Decatur in the last 5 years. They weren’t rowdy or filled with crime, they were small, unobtrusive, and provided nightlife for the 20-somethings that inhabit the town 9 months out of the year.

        Downtown Decatur has the rare distinction of being home to a college that doesn’t bring a rowdy, sometimes violent party “scene” (can you tell I’m already not talking about Emory?). The students are (mostly) well-behaved, there’s no outrageous sports culture, no fraternities, no couch-burning, no Halloween riots. Why not provide fun options for those college students to enjoy in Decatur, rather than force them to spend their dollars elsewhere?

        1. Driven out? I thought the founder of DSC wanted to end on a high note and go do other things. Was there more to the stories?

          1. DSC went to EAV for a little while, but lost most of its momentum and ceased. I have fond memories of trekking over to Azul (now Raging Taco) once a month while I was in college and dancing my tushie off.

        2. Much closer and indeed inside the City of Decatur are Agnes Scott and Columbia Theological Seminary – need I say more about either of these fine institutions ?

        3. What happened to the late night scene here? I was aware of all 3 clubs and was glad to see them start-up. Since i am no longer young (in age), I am usually asleep or at work by midnight. But still I was glad to see an after midnight scene beginning to develop. What happened?

    3. One thing that is troublesome for Decatur is “affordable housing”. Rising home values are great for home owners, home sellers, the city property tax digest, and city tax collections. However, because Decatur has very little in the way of housing that provides for economic diversity, proportionately, the trend is that families and individuals of lesser economic means cannot afford to live in the City of Decatur. This in turn creates problems for Decatur vis a vis Federal affording housing regulations.

      1. I believe the BOA project had stipulations regarding affordable units and there were also calculations with respect to the rent amount being within certain parameter. Here is the link:

        http://www.decaturmetro.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Aug-2012-PC-Packet.pdf

        In general, I think the city planners are very keen, some might say overly so, about making sure there are enough public, workforce and lifecycle units in the city. This is also emphasized in the Master Plan.

    4. Families with children are far more likely to rent a house in Decatur than an apartment downtown, so I’m not seeing the usual connection of “more people means more children as a percentage in CSD”.

      I would rather argue increased urban density in the core is a benefit to the city as a whole. There is a direct and positive relationship between walkability index, business revenue, sales tax revenue, real estate value, and property tax revenue.

      1. Didya not read the comment from the property manager above that states that 30% of her 100 CoD units have kids?

  2. I like the idea of more apartments downtown because I have a fantasy of moving into one as the need for a swingset and mosquito exposure declines in our family. But I do think that rental units are not just for the childless these days. I’ve read that it makes more and more financial sense lately for families to rent, especially if there’s a risk of job loss or transfer to another city. At the same time, I have the subjective sense that more and more of my kids’ friends are living in apartments/condos/townhouses. I wonder if CSD keeps those kinds of stats. This isn’t to say that rental units are not a cash cow for Decatur, just that we shouldn’t use old assumptions about how many children are likely to reside in them.

  3. Personal experience: For the past 8 weeks I have been looking for an apartment for a friend from NYC who has small kids. She has a job starting here soon and she wants to move only to Decatur. Mainly because of what she has read about our schools and because of the relatively easy access to public transportation (like me she hates the auto!). I have found no suitable apartment rental vacancies in Decatur. I have seen several be rented before I got back to them within days of going on the market. So yes, more rental apartment may be needed.

    1. You aren’t alone. I have heard similar stories from several people regarding the lack of rental housing currently available in CoD. (And here is where I unintentionally start a fight with an honest question). Is that a bad thing? We all pay a premium to live here, and do we want CoD to be readily accessible to anyone and everyone ane with no regard for how many want to move here or how many we can readily absorb? (Rick, I am sure your friend and her children would be wonderful additions to CoD, so please don’t perceive this as directed at you or your freind. It is general question about the direction of our city). Plus, I have never thought of growth for the sake of growth as a good thing.

      1. “We all pay a premium to live here, and do we want CoD to be readily accessible to anyone and everyone ane with no regard for how many want to move here or how many we can readily absorb?”

        Nice white-flight, gated community mentality.

        1. And yet, I supported Family Dollar moving into Oakhurst. I think it is a fair question, and although most won’t admit it, I am confident I am not the only one thinking it. I guess you have to be a “tolerant” liberal to understand how fighting to exclude a company that caters to lower income families is different than questioning the wisdom of trying to lower the price point in the city. And, for the record, my statement/question was primarily directed at the volume of people moving into the city if apartments are built, and not the income level of any given family.

          1. Ok, but what about single or even married school teachers, social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, intern architects, or other professional people with similar, rather not-that-high incomes that may not be able to afford the in-fill houses that are replacing Decatur’s smaller (more affordable) houses? I think a diversity of ages, occupations, lifestyles, and ethnicities is important for a city.

            That said, I am not sure I really want Decatur to become a place known for a party nightlife. Homes, Schools, Places of Worship, and Night Clubs? I have always seen Decatur as more family oriented, even when I lived here before I had a family.

      1. I’ll have to take Greg’s word on the size and price but I can attest that they are in a great location. The price seems really good for the area as well. Just be aware that this might be because of some non-obvious conditions that would make living there unbearable. For example, I’ve heard that one particular neighbor directly across the street is a real a-hole…

  4. I thought the owner of 315 already had approved plans and was awaiting a better market. Are those plans off the table?

    1. I think 315 was never actually approved in final form, but I will accept a correction/update to that.
      Trinity Triangle, however, has had an approved plan on the shelf for 4 or 5 years.

  5. What about all those apartments on Scott Blvd? Are they ALL converted to condos? I realize they are not “downtown” Decatur, but it is only a mile walk into “downtown”. Plus, you are closer to a real grocery store. If Decatur annexes to the north and east additonal apartment complexes will also move into the city overnight.

  6. I’m glad to see more apartments added to the mix of Decatur housing. Buying is not always the best deal and the more density we get downtown, the better the economics are for interesting retail, better grocery options, eating, etc. I just hope that there’s at least an attempt to a range of rents out there rather than attempting to serve only the very top of the market.

  7. As someone who just shopped for an apartment (we’re renovating) this City is desperately in need of more apts. Many of those available are older and in average condition. I like older apartments but I also like a dishwasher.

  8. I wonder if there are enough families(with young children) that move in to Decatur, maybe more quality child care locations will open up, because it seems like basically everywhere that is recommended has a serious waiting list at this point.

  9. I would love to see more apartments within walking distance of downtown Decatur. Everyone I know who has bought a condo near the square is over 60, and was seeking a place they could live without needing to drive all the time.

    We would love to move near downtown, but we don’t want to buy a condo, as proximity to family may be an issue as we hit our senior years.

    1. “We would love to move near downtown, but we don’t want to buy a condo, as proximity to family may be an issue as we hit our senior years.”

      Confused by this statement. Do you mean you wouldn’t want the hassle of selling a condo if you had to move closer to family? Just curious.

  10. Barry White-I think your affordable housing is going to come from Midway Woods, a neighborhood “across the street” from Winnona Park. Decatur is considering annexing 700 homes from this neighborhood. Home sales in the past 3 years range from $55-$450k, with average under $200k-remodeled. No way to find that in Decatur. I believe Decatur is making a land grab why else would they send their City Manager to an Annexation meeting:

    “Peggy Merriss, the Decatur City Manager, will also be available to answer any questions. We will be meeting a week earlier than usual at the Columbia Presbyterian Church Sanctuary at 7:30pm on Wednesday, September 26. We will not be having the normal monthly meeting the first Wednesday of October (the 3rd) due to meeting the week before. ”

    This is directly from Midway Woods Neighborhood Association website.

    1. Because Decatur is obligated because of the noise Midway Woods residents are making? The entire residential annexation issue begins and ends with CSD capacity. I can’t imagine CSD agreeing.

  11. As a downtown condo resident, I have some concerns about increased traffic if many apartments are built. But there is both a demand for apartments from a market perspective and a desire from a social policy perspective, so it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. Now is the time to start planning for it. That goes for the school system too, though I think the impact there will be marginal and mostly offset by increased tax revenues from denser development.
    Traffic, I think, will be the major issue, and I hope we will see some creative thinking that will encourage new residents to use the easily accessible MARTA station.

    1. What is the status of shuttle/transit to CDC/Emory from downtown Decatur? Seems like a downtown apt with shuttle would be ideal – and low traffic impact- for many potential apt dwellers related to that area.

        1. No, I just don’t know anything about it as I don’t go that way much. Others might need to know more about it too, to mitigate some worries about increased traffic from proposed downtown apts.

  12. There are some wild conclusions being leapt to by posters here. It’s a pretty far jump from “build a few dozen small, cheap apartments” to “90s Buckhead party scene” or “welfare majority”.

    Calm down, errybody.

  13. I wish someone would buy the abandoned apartment buildings on Craigie in Forest Hills–just a block from the Museum School and the Avondale Marta. Not in CSD territory, but close to all the businesses. Not sure who owns it, but it’s a huge chunk of land with a giant fence around it–probably home to a lot of rats….

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