As Atlanta land values have skyrocketed and the BeltLine’s Southside Trail edges closer to becoming reality, new housing ventures both massive and meager have barreled ahead in the previously overlooked but nonetheless historic Chosewood Park neighborhood south of downtown.

One longtime neighbor with a decidedly checkered past—the medium-security United States Penitentiary, Atlanta—has hardly been an investment deterrent.

The latest and perhaps strongest proof of that comes with a new apartment proposal that would rise directly across the street from the federal pen, facing the Beaux-Arts style facility.

The 556 McDonough Boulevard project's lone available rendering. Contineo Group; via BeltLine DRC

Decatur-based civil engineering firm Contineo Group filed paperwork last month for a Special Administrative Permit to construct a 102-unit apartment building on a long-vacant McDonough Boulevard lot where a liquor store and check-cashing business formerly stood.

The location overlooks the prison facility where Boulevard ends—and where “Tiger King’s” Joe Exotic is reportedly, angrily residing these days,

Plans call for 15 percent of the rentals to be reserved as affordable housing for tenants earning 80 percent of the area median income or less, complying with the BeltLine Inclusionary Zoning ordinance. Beyond the apartments, 56 parking spaces would be created around the building.

Project leaders told the BeltLine Development Review Committee during its October meeting that all units would be one-bedrooms—and that developers hope to lure tenants who opt for alternative transportation modes instead of driving vehicles.

The Chosewood Park property's location (in red) in relation to the Atlanta federal prison complex and downtown. Google Maps

The BeltLine’s inclusionary zoning rules provide an incentive that removes minimum parking requirements for residential projects that comply with the ordinance, but DRC members nonetheless asked to see designated, on-street parking spaces worked into the plans.  

Ditto for onsite bike racks, spaces designed for car-sharing around the apartments, and lease restrictions that prohibit cars, per a meeting recap.

The 1.3-acre property in question in March, at left, and the federal penitentiary, at right. Google Maps

Project leaders are expected to return to the BeltLine DRC with updated plans for review and feedback.

According to property records, the formerly bank-owned, foreclosed property was purchased in 2017 by an LLC called Oakland Holdco. A previous mixed-use proposal at the site didn't move forward. 

The 1.3-acre parcel is currently zoned for commercial uses. The liquor store was razed about seven years ago, and the lot has remained unused since.

We’ve reached out to permit applicants for more details and a timeline on construction. We’ll update this story with any additional information that comes.   

A shuttered liquor store was cleared from the property about seven years ago. Google Maps

Chosewood Park news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)