Atlanta mayor unveils ambitious affordable housing plan for the city

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Monday unveiled a citywide affordable housing plan, putting into action one of her central campaign pledges – to invest $1 billion in public and private funds to combat rising housing costs and the displacement of longtime residents.

The 43-page document – called the One Atlanta Housing Affordability Action Plan – offers a menu of policy proposals. They range from finding ways to use existing public dollars and land as an incentive to attract private sector investment to changes in zoning, expediting redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties, developer incentives, and the creation of a housing innovation lab.

Supporters called it the most comprehensive housing plan of its type in the city’s history.

But in order to make the proposals a reality, the effort will test Bottoms’ ability marshal the resources of the city, state and federal agencies, as well as local businesses, developers and nonprofits. She will also have to convince the City Council to pass legislation such as zoning changes that might risk running afoul of neighborhood groups.

In the hours after the unveiling, critics of the plan said it was short on details housing advocates said they’d expect for a document presented 18 months into the mayor’s first term. One prominent housing expert said he fears the city’s plans will take too long to deploy and potentially miss the current economic expansion only to face the headwinds of a potential recession.

At a press conference before a ceremonial groundbreaking for Creekside at Adamsville Place, a 147-unit affordable rental development in southwest Atlanta, Bottoms said the document would serve as the framework for how the city deploys $1 billion in public and private funds and create or preserve 20,000 affordable units by 2026.

“Rents are going up in around our city, but the increase in wages is not keeping pace,” Bottoms said. “There’s a growing gap in what people can afford and what people make.”

The city has enjoyed a booming economy and a development surge primarily focused on luxury housing. That’s put a squeeze on renters and homeowners who have seen their property taxes soar. Meanwhile, city agencies failed to fill the gap in new affordable housing development.

The 13 initiatives and 45 other items will require dozens of pieces of legislation, which Bottoms told reporters would be drafted as necessary.

The city and related government bodies control some 1,300 acres, some of which could be used for new development. Bottoms said she would push the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) to redevelop 300 acres of former housing projects into mixed-communities, something she said would create 2,000 new affordable units.

AHA has largely remained on the sidelines during the economic boom, mired in leadership turmoil and lawsuits. The agency also lacks a permanent CEO, a role Bottoms told reporters is a priority to fill.

Other changes could come to zoning and building codes for more flexibility for unique multi-family housing and construction processes. Bottoms also said her administration would explore expansion of inclusionary zoning, which requires developers set-aside a percentage of new rental units as affordable.

“The reality is that no city has gotten this right, and in true Atlanta fashion, I truly believe we will be the first to get it right in terms of the affordable housing challenge across this country,” Bottoms said.

‘Not a moonshot’

Sarah Kirsch, executive director of Urban Land Institute of Atlanta, applauded the plan. She said the plan builds on recommendations of HouseATL, a leadership group that presented more than two dozen proposals to the city last year.

“This is not a moonshot, this 20,000 units,” Kirsch said. But echoing astronaut Neil Armstrong, she called it “a giant leap” for affordability in the city.

Though Atlanta likes to tout its quality of life and affordability to industry, rising rents have squeezed residents as wages for many have stagnated.

Dan Immergluck, an affordable housing expert and a professor at the Urban Studies Institute at Georgia State University, said he was unimpressed by the plan.

“There’s too few details, no firm dollar commitments on different proposals,” he said.

Immergluck said Bottoms is right to want to use local, state and federal dollars to attract private sector resources. But unless the mayor finds significant sources of local funds, Immergluck said she won’t be able to leverage the public dollars very far. He also said AHA’s land should be used to create far more than 2,000 new units.

New construction is needed, Immergluck said, but city could add units faster by creating its own housing voucher program.

As a candidate for mayor, Bottoms also left many housing advocates with the strong impression she would seek mostly new local revenues to build the $500 million in public dollars for her $1 billion housing pledge.

On Monday, Bottoms said she always stated that she intended to use existing dollars to attract private investment while pledging to find new government funding.

The document discusses potential future housing bond programs and exploring potential fees that other cities have enacted to help finance new affordable housing.

Alison Johnson a member of advocacy group Housing Justice League, said she wanted to hear more from the mayor about how she plans to keep longtime renters from being displaced.

Johnson said that the mayor’s anti-displacement efforts mainly focus on protecting homeowners from rising property taxes. In some neighborhoods, particularly south and west of downtown, more than 80 percent of residents rent, Johnson said.

“How are those people going to be protected?” she asked.

A sampling of goals from the mayor’s affordable housing plan:

Create or preserve 20,000 affordable homes by 2026 Invest $1 billion from public, private, and philanthropic sources in the production and preservation of affordable housing Ensure equitable growth for all Atlantans and minimize displacement Support innovation and streamline processes

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Jesse Smollett spotted in Atlanta Smoothie King

Daniel Wilkerson

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — Jussie Smollett was spotted at a Smoothie King on 10th and Piedmont in Atlanta early Wednesday afternoon.

CBS46 reporter Daniel Wilkerson was at the Smoothie King, ordering a refreshing drink, when he caught a glimpse of Jesse Smollett standing outside the store drinking a smoothie.

Smollett was seen wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses to hide his appearance.

We spoke to a Smoothie King employee, India Anderson, who took Smollett’s order. She told us, "he was really nice and friendly; I was surprised, he had on shades and a hat, I could tell he didn’t want to be seen."

According to Anderson, Smollett ordered a strawberry-kiwi breeze and a berry punch.

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The Newest Homes On The Georgia Market Are More Than Nifty

Here are the newest homes on the market in Atlanta, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Bartow, Cobb and Cherokee Counties. (Realtor.com)

GEORGIA — In an ever-changing Georgia housing market, it’s hard to keep up with the newest homes to hit the up-for-sale list. Therefore, Patch has compiled some of the newest homes on the market throughout the Peach State.

Check out these Georgia homes brand new to the housing market in Atlanta, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Bartow, Cobb and Cherokee Counties; all listings are from Realtor.com.

Address: 3544 Suwanee Creek Rd, Suwanee
Price: $1,499,900
Bedrooms: 7
Bathrooms: 4.5+
Built: 2005

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Address: 14 Retreat Rdg SE, Cartersville
Price: $1,150,000
Bedrooms: 6
Bathrooms: 5.5+
Built: 2007

Address: 141 Allmond Ln, Alpharetta
Price: $1,625,000
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 6.5+
Built: 2001

Realtor.com is a Patch business partner.

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Why Sephora Stores In Atlanta Are Closing Wednesday

Sephora stores nationwide, including the stores in Atlanta, will close Wednesday for diversity training. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA — The beauty retailer Sephora will close its more than 400 stores nationwide, including its stores in metro Atlanta, on the morning of Wednesday, June 5, so its 16,000 employees can go through diversity training. The move comes after Grammy-nominated R&B singer SZA said she was racially profiled while shopping at a store in Calabasas, Calif.

Sephora, which is owned by the Paris-based luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vitton, does business at the following locations in metro Atlanta:

Sephora Ponce City Market, 650 North Ave.Sephora Buckhead, 3167 Peachtree Road NESephora Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road NESephora Cumberland Mall, 1140 Cumberland MallSephora Perimeter Mall, 4400 Ashford Dunwoody RoadSephora East Cobb, 4475 Rosewell Road, MariettaSephora JCPenney at Mall at Stonecrest, 8040 Mall Parkway, Lithonia

SZA, who is black, said an employee she identified as "Sephora Sandy" called security on her in April to make sure she wasn’t shoplifting.

Sephora apologized a day after she complained, writing in a tweet:

"You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores. We want to let you know we take complaints like this very seriously and are actively working with our teams to address the situation immediately."

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"We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy," SZA said in a Twitter post.

The "inclusion workshops" — which employees in all U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate offices will be required to attend — is part of a larger "We Belong to Something Beautiful" campaign, which has been in the works for about a year to promote diversity within both its staff and customers, the company said.

Sephora said it "will never stop building a community where diversity is expected, self-expression is honored, all are welcomed, and you are included."

Sephora spokeswoman Emily Shapiro said in an email to Reuters that the store closures for diversity training have been in the works for several months and were not "a response to any one event."

(For more news like this, find your local Patch here. If you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app; download the free Patch Android app here.)

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WEATHER-TRAFFIC UPDATE: Atlanta hits — and surpasses — 90-degree mark for first time this year

Atlanta has hit 91 degrees, breaking the 90-degree mark for the first time in 2019.

Time to celebrate by cranking up your air conditioner, grabbing a cold drink and enjoying the sun through a partly cloudy sky.

However, those stuck in traffic on the Perimeter likely don’t care about the weather.

A crash was recently cleared from the right lanes of the outer loop near New Northside Drive in Fulton County, but delays span back to Ashford Dunwoody Road in DeKalb County, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.

Also in DeKalb, a crash has been moved to the shoulder of I-20 West past Panola Road, but delays remain back to Evans Mill Road, the Traffic Center reported.

Cobb County also has some issues after a tractor-trailer stalled on the Perimeter’s outer loop at South Cobb Drive, blocking a left lane, according to the Traffic Center.

The projected high Wednesday was 91 degrees, which the city hit about 4 p.m., according to Channel 2 Action News.

“Today is not going to set records, but it’s going to be the hottest day of the year so far,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. “We’ll say that pretty much every day for the next few.”

North Georgia is staring down a heat wave that could bring record-breaking temps by the end of the week. The same area of high pressure building up the heat could also create problems for those with asthma, respiratory issues and other sensitive groups, Monahan said.

The air quality index was a moderate 70 Wednesday morning. Monahan said it is likely North Georgia will get its first Code Orange air quality alert of the year as early as Friday. During a Code Orange, air quality index values jump to the 101-150 range.

“Right now we are not there,” Monahan said Wednesday morning. “We could get there later this week.”

Wednesday morning started out warm with lows in the mid-70s in town, about 5 degrees above Tuesday’s start.

Most of North Georgia will avoid the rain Wednesday, but some areas around Blairsville, Gainesville and Athens saw heavy storms around 4 p.m. The severe thunderstorms are moving out of the state and into South Carolina now.

The rain chance stays at a low 20 percent for Thursday, according to Channel 2. Metro Atlanta will have a better chance of seeing some isolated showers Thursday afternoon, Monahan said.

Then he said “the heat cranks up and the dry weather moves in. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, not a raindrop across North Georgia.”

On Saturday, metro Atlanta is forecast to reach 94 degrees. That’s 1 degree above the hottest May 25 on record in 1960, according to the National Weather Service. Sunday’s projected high of 95 is also 1 degree above the record high set in 1936.

» For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.

» Download The Atlanta Journal-Constitution app for weather alerts on-the-go.

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‘Sinners Wanted’ gets Georgia red carpet movie premiere

ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) – "Sinners Wanted" is a film about a young, vibrant minister from Atlanta who relocates to Washington, D.C. for an opportunity to pastor a church.

Things begin to unravel within the congregation after he decides to begin a relationship with an unbecoming woman.

There will be a special red carpet premiere Saturday, May 18 at New Birth Missionary Churh at 5 p.m.

For more information on "Sinners Wanted," click here.

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StayTony Launches Corporate Housing Platform in Atlanta

(Image via Shutterstock)

From StayTony: StayTony, led by Founder, Tony Diamond, has re-imagined the short term corporate housing market by combining high-end design with key geographic location and affordability. By taking a page out of the hotel management model, StayTony has succeeded in changing the rules for how short-term housing is structured. With the launch of StayTony’s new technology-enabled affordability platform, the company is poised to become the first to offer qualified renters the opportunity to move in for a minimum of $237 and to finance the balance of their rental.

"With this new technology, we are taking our commitment to high-quality design and affordability to a whole new level. One of the biggest pain points for moving to a new city is the huge up-front cost. We will be eliminating that and doubling down on our mission to go beyond the typical, tired corporate apartment – four walls and furniture. When you rent with StayTony, guests get a unique, uniform branded experience. They can expect our locations to be on the best lot, on the best block, and the best street of each respective neighborhood, within steps of the most sought-after restaurants, retail, and nightlife. Now guests will also have the best and most flexible options to pay," says Tony Diamond, Founder of StayTony.

StayTony will be the first ever short-term furnished, corporate housing company in the world to offer guests the chance to finance rentals of one to three months, without any interest for the first six months, and with no security deposit and only a soft credit pull. The partner for this new platform is Uplift, an AI-driven, point-of-sale financing and technology company offering Pay Monthly options that make it easier for consumers to book and experience travel.

"People already finance one-time life events like weddings, medical procedures, and vacations all the time. We thought, why not finance the life event of relocating to a new city or moving for a temporary job assignment. Based on our latest data, the average consumer loan to finance a one-time event is $8,206. That easily covers a two-month stay at a typical corporate apartment. With our new platform and interest rates as low as 10%, StayTony renters will only need the down payment of $237 to move in followed by 11 monthly payments of that amount, which would cover the cost of a one month stay at our lowest priced apartment ($2,580 per month). Other options, including interest-free financing for six months, are also available for qualified renters. The other big pain point is that renting is typically a clunky process filled with friction at every step. Our new platform is seamless and intelligent, you simply contact and sign the lease," says Diamond.

Qualified renters can move in for a minimum initial payment of $237, removing the greatest barrier to entry for renters – coming up with first and last month’s rent and security deposit up front. There is nowhere else in the world where you can currently move in for that rate and finance the balance of the rent.

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This is a game-changer for the industry because renters no longer have to settle for the unknown quality of online platform hosts, where each landlord dictates different terms; pay the high expense of renting a hotel long term; settle for a traditional corporate apartment that lacks the designer touch; or resort to sharing your personal space to make moving to a new city affordable.

Recent college graduates moving to a new city for a job, entrepreneurs who want the flexibility and fluidity of working in multiple cities, traveling medical or business professionals and more all now have an option that is affordable, convenient, and of the quality they desire.

"We work with visionary names in interior design, like David McCauley, to create a visceral experience never before seen in corporate apartments. All the furniture is 100% custom made and includes custom decor like Porter Teleo hand-painted wallpaper. From the moment you check-in, your wireless internet and flat screen TV are ready to use and all of the furnishings are present from the designer bed and linens down to the wine glasses and cloth napkins. With over 8 years in business and not a single customer service complaint online, we’ve been relentless in doing whatever it takes to ensure all guests have an incredible experience. This new platform is an extension of that innovation and great customer service because now more people will be able to take advantage of our rentals," said Tony Diamond, Founder of StayTony.

StayTony currently has multiple locations in Los Angeles and Atlanta and plans to expand nationally to become the go-to name for the short term, corporate rental market.

About StayTony:
Since 2012, StayTony has been a leader in providing short term corporate housing rentals known for its upscale, modern design, impeccable customer service, and affordability. With locations in Midtown Atlanta, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and multiple locations in Hollywood, StayTony plans to expand to every major city in the US.

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Hotel Clermont, Westview Cemetery score spots on Georgia Register of Historic Places

The revitalized Hotel Clermont is nearing its 100th birthday.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’s Historic Preservation Division recently added 11 sites to its register of historic places, and few people will be surprised to learn that most of them are in Atlanta.

The most notable additions, perhaps, are Poncey-Highland’s revitalized Hotel Clermont and the Westside’s colossal Westview Cemetery.

Built in the early 1920s on Ponce de Leon Avenue, the eight-story Georgian Revival-style building now known for its gloriously seedy basement strip club and stunning rooftop patio initially served as apartments.

The rooftop deck, complete with a bar and seating.

In 1939, it was transformed into a motor inn—the Hotel Clermont—and it served travelers and tourists and even some longtime residents until shuttering in 2009.

The infamous strip joint beneath the hotel rooms, the Clermont Lounge, however, has been running strong since 1968—the oldest nightclub in Atlanta—and it shows no signs of faltering.

Today, a $30 million restoration has brought the nearly century-old hotel back to its former glory—and then some. The boutique hotel’s rooftop hangout boasts one of the best skyline views in the city, and new restaurant Tiny Lou’s serves up high-end French fare downstairs.

Tiny Lou’s.

Over on the Westside, just south of the MARTA rail line between the Hamilton E. Holmes and West Lake transit stations, the Westview Cemetery is the largest civilian cemetery in the Southeast, spanning more than 500 acres.

Founded in 1884, the historic site houses burial monuments that tell a story of the changes the cemetery has witnessed.

Jonathan PhillipsWestview Abbey in Atlanta’s Westview neighborhood.

The cemetery showcases numerous forms of “decorative burial monuments (mausoleums, obelisks, headstones, and other markers) reflecting funerary traditions from the mid-19th century to 1976, as well as the Spanish Plateresque-style Westview Abbey (1943), a Romanesque Revival-style gatehouse (1890), and several additional buildings and structures,” according to a Department of Natural Resources news release.

Westview Cemetery also features two distinct cemetery design styles—lawn-park and memorial park—which further illustrate how landscape design trends have evolved since the graveyard’s advent.

Eubanks, Awtry, Candler, and Hartsfield are but a few of the famous names who’ve taken eternal residence at Westview Cemetery.

Lawn-park style, a design movement that began after the Civil War and survived into the 1920s, looks like sprawling green space with an abundance of headstones and other effigies jutting up from the ground, whereas memorial park-style, a trend started in 1913, features monuments that are flush to the ground, according to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Being listed on the Georgia and National Register of Historic Places does not restrict the “use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property,” as officials noted, but properties on the National Register can be eligible for federal and state tax incentives.

Other Atlanta landmarks recently added to the state’s historic register include the Briarcliff Plaza (home to famous Plaza Theatre and Majestic Diner); Collier-Perry-Bentley House; F.H. Ross & Company Laundry Warehouse; First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta; and the Whitehall Street Retail Historic District.

Briarcliff Plaza. Road Arch

What $200K buys around Atlanta right now
Architect’s midcentury modern retreat asks $645K, fetches contract in days

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GA Wow Houses: 151 Acre Farm, $7M Mansion, Tuscan Style Estate

Look inside some top homes on the market across Georgia, along with some of the latest listings closer to home. (Realtor.com)

GEORGIA — Whether you’re looking for a new home or the latest in design trends or just looking for ample square footage for more closet space or a walk-in shower — why not start at the top?
Here are some top homes featured this week on Patch sites in the Atlanta area. Click on the photo or the headline for more photos and info

You can also scroll down for a list of the latest homes on the market a little closer to home.

Avalon Real Estate is pleased to present the opportunity to purchase Seronera a 151+ acre farm that is part of a 580+ acre family land holding that has an existing home, gardens, ponds, fencing and barn improvements. The name Seronera comes from the Kenyan safari camp and the natural beauty and feel of the diverse property lives up to this name. The barns and four board fencing would allow for a gentleman’s farm for cattle or equestrian uses, that is only 40 minutes north of Atlanta, and less than 15 minutes from Canton, Lake Arrowhead or Waleska.

Beautiful custom estate located at the end of the private drive. The exceptional grounds boast fabulous gardens, as well as a pool, summer house, freestanding office and a workman’s area. The finest materials and finishes were used to complete this elegant home. A carriage house apartment offers separate entries. Beautiful rooms with high ceilings, gourmet kitchen. The home’s terrace level features a climbing wall, media room, wine cellar with dumb waiter, jumping room, etc. all on lower level. There is an elevator to all three floors, as well as full house generator.

One of the most amazing modern homes built in Atlanta. Finished in 2016, this masterpiece was built by Derazi Homes. Incredible master suite on main with 3 additional large bedrooms on upper level each with en suite bathrooms, indoor basketball half court, media and spa rooms, heated pool and so much more all on 1.6+/- level, private acres.

Filled with character, this iconic 1936 French Provincial boasts tons of natural light, high ceilings & hardwoods throughout. Main floor includes large living room with fireplace, incredible sunroom, generous dining room, kitchen, half bath & large deck overlooking absolutely stunning yard. Upstairs has 3 large bedrooms, 2 baths and a small bonus space. You’ll love the brick fireplace and income producing potential in the terrace level or enjoy as guest suite. Fantastic walkability. One block from New Glennwood Elementary school, walk to Glenlake Park & everything City of Decatur has to offer!

Sprawling UNRESTRICTED 18+acre private estate surrounded by larger land tracts & sits far off the private road. Bring the HORSES! Over 7 acres fenced with a 2 stall hay storage/run in, barn sites are prepped with power and newly cleared additional pasture areas are seeded and ready! Award winning interior layout design with 6 bedrooms, craft room, huge bonus room, screened poolside deck, crown molding and plantation shutters throughout every room. 3 car attached garage and add’l detached two car garage! Beautiful wall of windows and doors access the in-ground pool! This is truly an entertainers dream home; enjoy private pool parties, ride horses or ATV, hunt or just enjoy the serene quiet! New appliances, HVAC, carpet and paint in 2017

Here’s more great Georgia homes on the market:

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Summit Contracting Group Building $22.6 Million Luxury Apartments in St. Augustine, FL

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., May 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Summit Contracting Group, a Multifamily General Contractor with offices in Jacksonville, FL and Atlanta, GA, has started construction on Antigua Apartments. This is a Class A development that will neighbor future retail projects and single family homes within the master development called Antigua on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, FL. It will consist of 249 units in 3 4-story buildings, with 291,448 total square footage.

Amenities include high-end interior finishes, balconies, spacious floor plans, resort-style pool, outdoor kitchen with grilling stations, clubhouse with full media lounge and wifi, cyber cafe, co-working business spaces, entertainment area, bicycle storage, dog grooming spa, dog park, onsite fitness club with equipment and classes, and ample green spaces.

Construction is planned to be complete in summer of 2019. The owner is Catalyst Development Partners, and the architect is Humphreys & Partners Architects.

For more information on the project contact Summit at 904-268-5515; for information on the company visit our website www.Summit-Contracting.com.

About Summit Contracting Group, Inc.:
Summit has built more than 350 multifamily projects nationwide. Molded by industry experience, inspired by a competitive spirit, and focused on a team approach Summit’s projects represent over 100,000 completed multifamily units. With an experienced management team combined with strong subcontractor relationships, Summit has been able to provide their clients with successful projects throughout the nation. More information on the company’s notable achievements, services provided, key leadership, or history is available at www.Summit-Contracting.com or by following the company on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

CONTACT: Marketing Department, 904-268-5515, www.Summit-Contracting.com

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SOURCE Summit Contracting Group, Inc.

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