Much has been made over the past year of Decatur’s efforts to pass inclusionary zoning laws and open the door for more “missing middle” housing, potentially filling the gap between multifamily apartments and prohibitively expensive large homes.  

One such project is underway a few blocks east of the historic Decatur Square.

In the pipeline for more than seven years, construction on the Oak Cottage Court project finally kicked off in August on a relatively tight, half-acre site at 230 Commerce Drive. It’s about six blocks from MARTA’s Decatur station, just north of College Avenue, tucked on a formerly wooded bend. The Ice House Lofts stand across the street.

Plans call for six standalone houses arranged around a shared, central greenspace, offering what officials describe as permanent affordability.

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

Totality of the half-acre site on a bend along Commerce Drive. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The collaboration between the City of Decatur and nonprofit Decatur Land Trust marks the first cottage-style project in the city. The housing type has been allowed in Decatur since 2014, when an ordinance passed, and Oak Cottage Court is considered a pilot project, in hopes it will generate “more affordable, neighborhood-friendly housing in the city,” per Decatur Land Trust.

Nonprofit developer Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and general contractor Fortas Homes are building the community. The site has been cleared and infrastructure installed, but vertical construction has yet to commence, according to a site visit last week.

Site plans indicate the project was designed by Mississippi-based architect Bruce B. Tolar, considered one of the country’s top experts for missing-middle housing design and development. Tolar’s known for developing cottage-style housing nodes as part of post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding.

Overview of how six standalone cottages were arranged along Commerce Drive. Decatur Land Trust

The six homes will range in price between $199,000 and $275,000.

Plans call for four houses with three bedrooms, one with two bedrooms, and another with a single bedroom, with sizes between 528 and 1,117 square feet, Decaturish has reported. 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, per the website.

Site plans show seven parking spaces, including one handicap space, will be installed next to the central green.

According to DLT officials, the Oak Cottage Court homes will be offered for sale to people who work for Decatur’s city schools, the Decatur Housing Authority, and the city itself.

Sample facade at Oak Cottage Court. Decatur Land Trust

Closer look at blueprints for the community's centralized greenspace and parking. 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.

DLT officials have projected that construction would take about 10 months, beginning from last August, but the timeline for delivery has clearly changed.

Site work this month for the Oak Cottage Court entry on Commerce Drive. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta


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