A project that MARTA officials say will provide an injection of attainable housing with steps-away transit access in unincorporated DeKalb County is officially moving forward.
MARTA officials have scheduled a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon alongside Housing Authority of DeKalb County leadership for a Kensington Station transit-oriented development that’s been coming together over the past couple of years.
The 3413 Kensington Road site in Decatur is already under construction, according to MARTA officials.
In the pipeline is a residential component with 100 percent affordable senior and workforce housing, a new HADC headquarters, and other community amenities, according to MARTA.
Kensington is the second-to-last station on MARTA’s eastbound route before final stop Indian Creek station. It’s located just west of Memorial Drive, inside the Interstate 285 loop, east of Avondale Estates and downtown Decatur. The mixed-use Phoenix Station project has risen across the street.
Plans in coming years call for Kensington to become a regional transportation center and mixed-use neighborhood gathering place that increases ridership and revenue, in the vein of the Edgewood/Candler Park station, according to a Kensington Station Master Plan completed by MARTA and DeKalb County for the 35 acres in question in May.
Three “framework” designs for the Kensington TOD emerged in May, showing variations of how buildings and amenities might be arranged around a new town green (see the gallery above for visuals).
We’ve asked MARTA officials for clarification on exactly what’s being built now and will update this post with any additional details that come. [UPDATE: 5:04 p.m. Nov. 27: According to MARTA, this week’s groundbreaking pertains to 4.3 acres of property south of Kensington Station. Under development is a 74-unit senior living community, a 186-unit family community, a 15,000-square-foot office space for HADC’s new headquarters, a shared parking deck, and “community amenities,” per MARTA officials.]
Soccer in the Streets opened a temporary soccer pitch and community garden at Kensington Station in summer 2022. A MARTA Market with fresh produce is also now open at the station from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
“By investing in communities around our bus and rail services, MARTA aims to foster urban development, strengthen local economies, and provide equitable access to reliable transportation,” MARTA general manager and CEO Collie Greenwood said in an announcement for the Kensington groundbreaking.
According to the planning study, MARTA determined that market demand through 2030 near Kensington could support 525 units of dense residential housing in two buildings standing four or five stories, either wrapping or next to parking decks. More than 100 three-story townhomes with two-car garages could also be built.
On the commercial side, the market could support about 22,000 square feet of “traditional retail” for uses such as restaurants, coffee shops, and a pharmacy. Other facets of the project could see roughly 30,000 square feet of more service-oriented office space and retail, such as banks, dry cleaners, and hair salons.
Elsewhere, project designers were tasked with reimagining the station’s stormwater pond as a usable public greenspace, increasing bike and pedestrian access with more trails and sidewalks, making access to the station’s bus bay easier, incorporating smaller-scale buildings for housing and retail, and including a permanent space for a StationSoccer field.
Prior to plans being finalized, MARTA succeeded in having the property rezoned to MU-5, or high-density mixed-use, a designation that supports the 2050 DeKalb Unified Plan for building up the area into a regional center.
Plans generally call for transitioning from higher density at the project’s core to lower intensity at its edges, per MARTA.
The station’s overhaul could join transit-oriented development plans recently set in motion around MARTA stations in Bankhead, the southern fringes of downtown (now delayed indefinitely), and at H.E. Holmes, the system’s westernmost transit hub.
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