Since the summer of 2021, the Development Authority of Fulton County has drawn no shortage of heat for overly generous tax breaks given to projects that would likely be built and flourish anyway, in addition to other loose spending, in high-octane development zones like Midtown and Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods.  

But an under-construction residential project near Zoo Atlanta presents a special case where tax relief is warranted, despite the development’s steps-away proximity to the BeltLine corridor, the reformed board determined this week.

According to the AJC, DAFC has approved a $3.7-million tax abatement for Atlanta-based developer TPA Residential to help with cleaning up a massive, illegal dump located in Boulevard Heights, about two blocks east of the BeltLine and Grant Park.

On Tuesday, the board voted 7-1 to grant the tax abatement, with DAFC board member and former Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker calling the decision a “no-brainer.” The lone dissenter, board member Tom Tidwell, had argued the parcel near the BeltLine would eventually be developed without tax-relief assistance in December, when the board deadlocked on the matter 4-4, the newspaper reported.

Exterior plans for the rental townhomes. TPA Residential

The TPA venture, untitled for now, has begun site work on 8.2 acres where United Avenue meets Avondale Avenue. According to the project’s Special Administrative Permit application in late 2021, the site is an unused landfill that’s been capped with fill-dirt over the years. A source close to the project told Urbanize Atlanta in July that some 150,000 yards of garbage must be removed before the site’s ready for construction. The development has been approved for the Brownfield Tax Credit Program for “the voluntary cleanup and redevelopment of an environmentally contaminated site,” per TPA’s project website.

TPA closed on the site’s purchase in June and was granted a city permit to begin remediation and environmental cleanup.

The property was also once home to a city-operated drinking water chlorination facility, and according to one longtime Boulevard Heights resident, the current trash heap is 40-feet deep in places, the AJC reported. Two previous development efforts on site sputtered and quit.

The current site plan, with Empire Communities' existing Swift townhomes depicted at left, and United Avenue at right. TPA Residential

Remediation and removal of the landfill will reportedly cost $7 million, and TPA plans to spend another $1 million building a BeltLine connection with lighting and landscaping.

TPA’s plans now call for 215 apartments in a mid-rise building, alongside 63 rental townhomes spread around 10 structures situated closer to United Avenue. As required by zoning, a small retail space will be included in one corner of the multifamily building.

Fifteen percent of the apartments and townhomes will be reserved as affordable housing, as required by BeltLine inclusionary housing rules, per TPA's plans. The first units are expected to deliver in spring or summer 2024.

An internal street with a parking garage and multifamily housing at the Boulevard Heights development. TPA Residential

TPA’s plans for the apartments (ranging from studios up to three-bedrooms) call for 43 units to be reserved for tenants earning 80 percent of the area median income or less. That translates to $54,000 for an individual and $77,120 for a family of four, per the AJC.

The Avondale Avenue project joins a flurry of recent development in that pocket of the BeltLine corridor, where construction on the next 1.2-mile stretch of the Southside Trail is expected to begin in coming weeks.

The site of TPA Residential's mix of rental townhomes and apartments along United Avenue, with the BeltLine's Southside Trail corridor depicted at left. Google Maps

Empire Communities’ recently developed the Swift, a sprawling townhome project with 120 units, is next door.

Down the street, TPA is also building a 275-unit project called The Penman on 6 acres that directly front the BeltLine, near the Southside Trail’s intersection with Boulevard. About 7,000 square feet of adaptive-reuse retail is planned in that project. 

Southside Trail project gets coffee/wine bar, new name, pricing (Urbanize Atlanta)