City officials are taking the first steps toward transforming vacant land and a notoriously blighted section of southeast Atlanta into nodes of new housing.

Mayor Andre Dickens and Atlanta Urban Development Corporation officials released a Request for Qualifications on Thursday seeking development partners for Thomasville Heights acreage, where a large public housing complex was razed more than a decade ago.

The crumbling, now-shuttered Forest Cove apartment complex—the subject of media scrutiny for years, where nearly 200 residents were relocated—is across the street.

Phase one of Dickens’ and AUD’s vision involves a 7.86-acre parcel that fronts McDonough Boulevard, between Welch Street and Moreland Avenue. Part of it is located across the street from Starlight Drive-In Theatre, at the southern edge of the Custer/McDonough/Guice neighborhood.

Overview of the nearly 8 acres in question, just west of Moreland Avenue in southeast Atlanta. Google Maps

Google Maps

AUD’s plans generally call for the land to be redeveloped into both townhomes and single-family houses, with a mix of rentals and for-sale options all meant to cater to families.

According to the RFQ, both affordable and market-rate housing will be built at Thomasville Heights.

Dickens said the goal is to reestablish Thomasville Heights, which was originally developed as low-income housing in the late 1960s and ’70s, as a “vibrant, flourishing area of our city,” per an announcement. New housing will create opportunities for former Forest Cove residents to return to the neighborhood—but in a secure, safe environment this time, the mayor said.

The redevelopment of Thomasville Heights is considered a multiphase, neighborhood revitalization project that will take multiple years to complete.

Other partners in the initiative include Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Atlanta Housing, MARTA, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, Focused Community Strategies, United Way, Park Pride, PATH Foundation, and Career Rise, among other agencies, per the city.

Thomasville Heights neighbors assisted in creating the area’s redevelopment plan. It calls for nearly 800 units—mostly apartments, but also townhomes—to replace boarded-up Forest Cove.

All responses to the RFQ are due by May 1. Once that window closes, AUD officials will “evaluate responses and engage one or more respondents that are deemed most qualified to execute the city’s vision,” per the city. 

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• Custer/McDonough/Guice news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)