South Downtown’s trend toward housing density could continue in the shadow of a MARTA station sooner than later.

Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, has issued the official call for developers capable to turning an underused parking lot and small plaza next to the MARTA Garnett station into a dense mix of both affordable and market-rate apartments where few currently exist.

The 184 Forsyth Street site, totaling 1.01 acres, is owned by the City of Atlanta and zoned to allow for a wide range of residential and commercial uses.

The 1.01-acre Forsyth Street property's location (in red) in relation to downtown landmarks such as Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Georgia State Capitol. Invest Atlanta

Requirements are that developers would build at least 200 housing units—although there’s no cap on how many, and maximum density is being encouraged—with at least 100 of them reserved as affordable by HUD standards, according to a Request for Proposals issued by Invest Atlanta at the end of January.  

The Garnett TOD Project (as it’s being called, in reference to “transit-oriented development”) would claim a gated, surface parking lot currently used by Atlanta Department of Corrections employees. The smaller piece is a pedestrian plaza that leads to a closed and fenced-off concrete MARTA staircase, rendering the space a relative ghost town, apart from construction of a new Greyhound terminal next door to the south.

The parking lot and plaza in question, with ongoing construction of a new Greyhound station next door. Invest Atlanta

That bus hub means the site will remain intermodal, linking future residents to thousands of jobs around the metro and destinations beyond state lines. As Invest Atlanta notes, MARTA has also budgeted $20 million for a Garnett station rehab and renovation that’s expected to start with planning and design next year.

The overarching goal, per Invest Atlanta officials, is to help “revitalize a core area of downtown [and] provide long-term affordable housing, [infusing] a diverse mix of incomes into the area” and reestablishing easy MARTA access from Forsyth Street.

At least half of income-restricted units must be offered to households earning at most 60 percent of the median income (or $40,500 for an individual), with the others capped at 80 percent AMI. At least 5 percent of the apartments must offer three bedrooms, per the RFP.

Invest Atlanta

To the north and west, the project site is surrounded by shoots of mixed-use development activity. Centennial Yards’ first apartments opened in 2021, and more are underway nearby; Newport’s Hotel Row and 222 Mitchell projects remain under construction as the groundbreaking for that company’s first two apartment towers nears.                    

In the RFP, Invest Atlanta describes the “burgeoning” South Downtown neighborhood as capable of supporting “market rate housing [as] a major part of the [Forsyth Street] proposal.”

All responses to the RFP are due by March 31.

Invest Atlanta

Invest Atlanta

The process is expected to move relatively fast. The schedule calls for the selected project team to be notified in late April, followed by contract negotiations with Invest Atlanta and closing.

Redeveloping MARTA-adjacent land would continue a trend the transit agency has set in motion in places like Grant Park and Edgewood, where parking lots have been replaced with apartment communities and other uses. MARTA has identified five more train stations for similar treatment across its rail-transit network.  


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