Decatur’s first stab at creating a relatively affordable, pocket community of for-sale housing from scratch has arrived.

After construction started in summer 2022, the Oak Cottage Court project is undergoing its final punch list items to receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the city for all six of its cottages, as Angela Threadgill, Decatur’s economic and planning director, tells Urbanize Atlanta.

The “missing middle” housing initiative swapped a wooded, half-acre site at 230 Commerce Drive with the charming node of standalone homes, most of them vibrantly colored and arranged around a centralized greenspace to encourage neighborly interactions. It’s located a few blocks east of the city’s historic Downtown Square—close enough to walk—and offers what officials have described as permanent affordability.

The six cottages range from 528 to 1,582 square feet, each with at least two bedrooms. Some have lofts accessed by stairs, and the largest homes count three bedrooms, according to Threadgill.  

Current sales prices range from $210,00 to $325,000. (That’s more expensive than the range initially projected—between $199,000 and $275,000—but not unexpected in an age of inflation and spiking construction costs.)  

“One cottage is already spoken for, with three others pending [sales],” wrote Threadgill via email.

The communal green and parking spaces within the property. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The Oak Cottage Court site plan and price breakdown. Decatur Land Trust

If there’s a catch, it’s this: The Oak Cottage Court homes are offered for sale exclusively to income-qualified people who work for Decatur’s city schools, the Decatur Housing Authority, and the city itself.

The home prices are substantially cheaper than what buyers could expect to pay for new standalone homes in such a centralized Decatur location. According to Redfin, the median sales price for all houses, townhomes, and condos across Decatur was $447,000 in February—a 32 percent bump over the same month in 2023. 

In the pipeline for more than seven years, the collaboration between the City of Decatur Development Authority, nonprofit housing developer Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, and nonprofit Decatur Land Trust marks the first cottage-style, workforce housing project in the city.

DLT is marketing the project and coordinating sales. Threadgill said up to three sources of down payment assistance are also available for qualified applicants. (The city encourages anyone who meets employment and income qualifications to apply for homebuying opportunities here.)  

Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Oak Cottage Court home purchases are limited to households making 100 percent AMI as shown above. Decatur Land Trust

DLT’s model goes that homes will be sold to new owners, but the land beneath them will be kept in a trust. Should new owners sell in the future, the DLT’s ground-lease program is meant to ensure the properties retain their affordability permanently, officials have said.

The housing type has been allowed in Decatur since an ordinance passed in 2014, and Oak Cottage Court is considered a pilot project, in hopes it will succeed in generating other examples of relatively affordable, neighborhood-friendly housing in the city, according to DLT.

The project was designed by Mississippi-based architect Bruce B. Tolar, considered one of the country’s leading experts for missing-middle housing design and development. Tolar's company is known for developing cottage-style housing nodes as part of post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding. In Decatur, previous delays in construction were related to rising construction costs, Georgia Department of Transportation’s delayed approval of the entry off Commerce Drive (a state highway), and other factors, officials have said.

Seven parking spaces, including one handicap space, were installed next to the central green, according to plans.

Find more context and images of the (almost) finished product in the gallery above.

Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The cottage-style project's 230 Commerce Drive location just east of downtown Decatur's main hub of shops and restaurants. Google Maps


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