The Bartow County Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night to recommend approval of a rezoning request that could bring a major workforce housing development to Acworth.
Applicant Prestwick Co. has announced plans to possibly construct a 150-unit, four-story multifamily apartment complex on a 3.862-acre parcel running parallel to Glade Road.
The applicant is seeking a land use map amendment from residential/mixed use to medium/high density residential, as well as the rezoning of the parcel from C-1 commercial to R-7 residential.
If approved, the parcel would become the first R-7 zoned property in Bartow County.
“We created R-7 to give more flexibility, to meet the market where it is, so to speak,” Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson told The Daily Tribune News
. “We find that if you just set your zoning districts in a vacuum without any consultation with the development community, then you create unrealistic requirements that don’t meet the market … we took the density restriction out and just said ‘Well, propose whatever density you want to propose and we’ll consider it.'”
The developer behind the proposed “Chadwick” project is the same company behind the Brentwood Senior Apartments complex off Douthit Ferry Road.
“This isn’t a Section 8 development,” said Prestwick Co. representative Edrick Harris. “This is true workforce housing — what we’re proposing is to have rents, really, that range from about $660 for some of our one-bedrooms all the way up to a few three-bedrooms that will be at the $1,150 [range], the higher end.”
Harris said residents will receive no subsidies, although the developer does plan on utilizing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
“It’s a Reagan-era program that looked to bring in workforce housing to communities,” Harris said. “It brings in equity to buy down the construction.”
The funding, Harris said, would stem from a tax-exempt bond process.
“It’s non-competitive, but you have to get an allocation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to actually get the funding to basically buy down the construction,” he said. “We have received that approval … we’re using income averaging that’s in that, so we’re going to target people that basically average out to about 60% of the area median income.”
He noted that Bartow County falls within the same area median income bracket as the greater Atlanta/Roswell/Sandy Springs metropolitan area. In that particular range, he said the median household income hovers around the $84,000-$86,000 a year mark.
“We adjust that to be more locally specific, as well,” he added. “On our one-bedroom, where it’s $660 by rule, we could actually deliver that at $747, so we’re making adjustments to be global to Bartow and the workers that are in the area.”
Harris said he anticipates the median income of Chadwick renters to be between $40,000-$45,000 annually.
“The county’s about $54,000, $55,000,” Olson commented.
Conceptual renderings for the project indicate the completed development would have 17 one-bedroom units, 98 two-bedroom units and 35 three-bedroom units. A site plan depicts 179 parking spaces dotting the periphery of the complex.
“We’re going to work hand-in-hand with the County, with the neighborhood,” Harris said. “We’re still in the evolution process of how this looks and feels … I guarantee you whatever we come up with, no. 1, I’m going to be proud of, so I’ll make sure that you’re proud of it as well.”
Harris said the design of the Chadwick development would be similar to the Brentwood complex — if not even better.
“One of the things that’s very different in this, we have to obtain a sustainable certification,” he said. “While we’re also delivering apartments at an affordable rate, we’re also making sure that the utilities and that quality of life is at a higher level.”
As for amenities, Harris said the developer is still mulling the specifics. A computer center, a coffee shop, a library and a Minute Clinic-like medical provider, he noted, are all possibilities on the property.
“It is a pretty stringent qualification process,” Harris said. “We have a full-asset property management team … you do have to submit pay stubs that show you’re within that income bracket, because we don’t want a person that’s making $120,000 to come in, snatching up a unit that’s reserved for somebody that’s making $45,000.”
Several nearby property owners, however, aired concerns about the proposed development.
Acworth resident Peggy Martin said she believes “there’s been a complete lack of transparency” concerning the project to members of the Allatoona Community.
“Without additional information, it puts us in a position where maybe it’s a little risky for future work,” she said. “Where’s the market feasibility analysis for this project? We’d love to see it.”
Martin also expressed concerns about a deluge of R-7 developments flooding the Glade Road corridor — in turn, possibly pushing Allatoona Elementary School to maximum capacity.
“This area cannot handle additional density,” she said. “We know that this project can be a positive step forward to everybody’s longstanding desire to clean up the area and improve the area so that we’re not the brunt of Bartow … but we are already an overpopulated community squeezed in via our zoning.”
Another nearby resident, Ronald Thomason, asked if there would be a barrier between the proposed development and existing property lines.
Bartow County Zoning Administrator Richard Osborne said that for R-7 properties, there is a required 25-foot buffer adjacent to residentially-zoned districts.
“If the planning commission chose to make that 25-foot [buffer] because it’s residential-use, possibly it could be a condition,” he said.
Thomason also said he wasn’t happy about the prospects of hundreds of new residents coming into the area.
“There’s a tent city just full of meth-heads right across 75, and you’re wanting to bring this in and bring more?” he said. “I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.”
The planning commission, however, informed Thomason that the proposed development would not share a boundary with his own property.
“I still don’t want it,” he said. “I still say we’ve got a problem down there and ya’ll aren’t addressing the real problem we’ve got — you’re just wanting to make money, that’s all you’re wanting to do.”
Harris said he’s well aware of the “problems” throughout the corridor.
“We’re hoping that as we come in, being committed to the community, we’ve got to help out,” he said. “Because if I build that and what he describes is there and we’re not helping to make it better, no one wants to live there.”
Ultimately, Harris said the developer is looking to spend $20 million-$30 million on the investment — and maintain it for at least 20 years.
“We’re only as good as our last development,” he said. “In year two, if you make a phone call to DCA and say ‘Edrick’s over there at the Chadwick and he’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing,’ they come check and they say ‘Guess what? You can’t do this anymore.’”
Since 2009, the developer has completed over 40 projects.
“We still own all those,” Harris said.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor is set to vote to approve or deny the land use map reclassification and rezoning requests at a public meeting scheduled today at 10 a.m. at the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, located at 135 West Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville.