Apartments are a part of Sandy Springs' past, present and future. The question has become what to do about them.
A discovery that the density apartment units on properties identified in the city’s Comprehensive Plan is out of whack with existing apartment communities has magnified the issue.
Ideally Sandy Springs would like to redevelop older Class C apartment properties that in some cases house more than one family per unit and where most violent crime occurs, according to police. A strategy for that was seemingly laid out in the Comprehensive Plan, which was created with community input and supposed to be based on existing developments. Properties in the Plan with lower densities per acre would allow room for redevelopment.
Below: More Apartment Developments in Sandy Springs' Future
During a City Council retreat, Tuesday, Angela Parker, director of Community Development, told Mayor Eva Galambos and Council members that staff found the Comprehensive Plan was incorrect when properties in the document were matched with the actual apartment developments.
“In some places the Plan shows one to two units on a property that its developer put apartments, so the chance of redevelopment [would go] up” Parker said. “A concerted effort was made in the Comprehensive Plan process to lower those densities because the feeling was…in the public process, they didn’t like existing developments.”
The community wanted to see lower density in the Comprehensive plan, and that’s what they got, according to Parker.
But the chances of zoning approval and redevelopment based on the mismatched information are non-existent, she said.
City Council agreed to have Community Development identify all inconsistencies that relate to apartment communities in the Plan, and recommend complexes ideal for redevelopment.
“Not every apartment in Sandy Springs is Class C and lends itself to redevelopment,” Parker said.
Luxury apartments are part of mixed-used development concepts for Sandy Springs' new downtown. City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny is concerned that rental communities new or old will have an adverse impact on adjacent neighborhoods with single-family homes. Sandy Springs has two of the largest apartment communities in metro Atlanta and more are coming, she said, alluding to the more than $100 million redevelopment of Chastain and Versailles apartment properties.
“We do have a growing imbalance in the percentage of rental housing to owner occupied that has clearly been identified since the 1970s, when our community along Roswell Road was blanketed with apartments,” McEnerny added.
McEnerny asked Council members to consider buying down land from apartment property owners through incentives - an idea that was proposed by Parker during last year's City Council retreat. “….Instead of using money to do road intersection improvements, help them bring the density down which really helps the adjacent landowners,” McEnerny said.
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