A mixed-use project in Old Fourth Ward has succeeded in scoring a tax incentive that one of metro Atlanta’s most controversial developers is calling make-or-break.

Just east of downtown, Fuqua Development is finalizing plans where Highland Avenue meets Boulevard, a collection of parcels next to the popular Freedom Barkway Dog Park. Totaling 3 acres, the property in question is largely vacant now, apart from a standalone house and Desperate Housewares Atlanta furniture store. Two buildings in a low-rise brick apartment complex immediately to the east would not be impacted, and neither would the dog park, plans indicate.  

On Tuesday the Development Authority of Fulton County approved a request by Fuqua and development partners Northwood Ravin for $5.7 million in tax savings across 10 years. Fuqua and co-developers told DAFC members the small abatement would determine whether the Old Fourth Ward project gets built or remains an underused lot, as its inclusion of affordable apartments would drop the return-on-investment to 5.4 percent with no tax help—a return they consider unviable, according to the AJC.

Though DAFC had been a lightning rod for criticism in recent years for green-lighting tax gifts in hot real estate zones where development would happen regardless, board members seemed convinced this week that aspects of Fuqua and company’s proposal make it a worthy beneficiary.

Rough boundaries of the Old Fourth Ward property in question, where Highland Avenue meets Boulevard, just north of the neighborhood dog park. Google Maps

Situated near the shuttered Atlanta Medical Center, the $122-million venture would include a grocery store (reported by Atlanta Business Chronicle to be a Publix), plus 284 apartments, with 15 percent of those reserved for renters earning 80 percent of the area median income or less. According to the AJC, developers have agreed to preserve those apartments’ affordability status for a decade longer than city code requires—30 years—in exchange for the tax incentive. (The newspaper includes a fresh rendering of the Fuqua proposal here.)

In additional to the grocery, plans call for roughly 12,400 square feet for restaurants and retail. According to the development team, a garage with 400 parking spaces would serve retail guests, residents, and visitors headed to the dog park just south of new construction—an assertion that didn’t please everyone.

Looking southwest, initial images of Fuqua Development's proposal are shown next to John Lewis Freedom Parkway. Submitted

Breakdown of the Fuqua proposal as submitted to the city in 2022. Fuqua Development/Office of Zoning and Development

With the tax break in the bag, Fuqua’s team plans to quickly close on the Old Fourth Ward properties in question and move toward construction. They’ve also vowed to allocate $900,000 toward new sidewalks and on-street parking.

In addition to suburban mixed-use ventures at The Battery and in places like Buford, Fuqua’s Atlanta-based development company is known for projects with a heavy emphasis on parking such as Midtown Place and Edgewood Retail District, and a suburban-style node with a towering self-storage facility near Atlantic Station. Fuqua’s more recent work includes Madison Yards in Reynoldstown.

Based in Charlotte, Northwood Ravin’s work in Atlanta includes a Decatur mixed-use proposal that would bring nearly 400 apartments to the doorstep of MARTA’s Avondale station.


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