By Gabriel Owens, contributor
With the continuous expansion and popularity of the Beltline, the dwindling available real estate has led to rising prices and even faster turnaround as property is snatched up at ever-increasing rates.
While a boon to real estate developers and owners, the rising house prices and rent is slowly forcing out low-income families and businesses.
Adrianna Berlin, a local real estate agent, took a pointed look at the area.
“This has been happening since the expansion after Olympics in 1996,” said Berlin. “The Atlanta area went from 4 million to 6 million people in only a few years, making property around the metro area valuable.”
Houses have been bought for purchase prices of $125,000 that turned around and sold for over $200,000 in two years.
“Interest rates are really low right now,” she said. “It’s completely a seller’s market.”
Berlin stated the Beltline is the hottest market in the state, with the potential return on investment at an all-time high. This makes living along the multi-use trail increasingly difficult for current low-income families, and an economic barrier for any incoming ones.
“It feels like there was no plan for affordable housing when this development started,” said Pat Peyer, another local real estate agent and tenant property owner on the Beltline. “The [Atlanta Housing Authority] is behind the curve of keeping up with it.”
Peyer stated he’s been forced to raise rent on the quadroplex he owns to keep up with the market and his mortgage.
“People who have owned here for 20 years are at a luxury to keep prices down to per-expansion prices, but don’t usually,” he said. “They want to sell in this hot market, and get back on their investments.”
Berlin said the turnaround time is much faster than it was just a few years ago.
“From around 80 days on average to sell from putting it on the market in 2012 to just around 30 days the last two years,” she said. “With property moving that quick the prices will just keep rising, it’s hard to gauge when the bubble will burst.”
Last year two members of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board – Ryan Gravel and Nathaniel Smith – resigned over concerns the board is not giving enough attention to housing affordability. Gravel is the man whose Georgia Tech master’s thesis inspired the Atlanta BeltLine.
Atlanta should be looking to help existing Beltline residents stay in their homes, and be welcoming low income new residents as well as the more affluent, Gravel said.
“The city is changing rapidly,” Gravel said. “The city, and I mean all of Atlanta, not just the Beltline area, need to be more aggressive in protecting affordability.”
In a recent Atlanta Beltline Board of Directors meeting, the CEO and President Paul Morris reported that ABI was making proactive efforts to promote affordable housing.
“We have secured 77 units of affordable housing through the Atlanta Housing Authority on Adair Court,” he said. “And we are actively looking to secure other housing.”
Other areas identified for low-cost housing include 1016 Monroe and 898 Memorial Drive. Details are still being worked out with the Atlanta Housing Authority, Morris said.