Buckhead planners are asking, “Can we build our way out of our traffic problem?” The answer just might be yes ... by building a better mix of housing types that are available at a broader range of price points.
“Buckhead’s traffic problem is largely a housing problem,” Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling said in a news release. “Housing is concentrated at the high end of the cost scale, putting it out of reach of many of the people who work here. The end result is that 98 percent of the workforce commutes from outside Buckhead every day, which is a major contributor to traffic.”
A variety of housing studies have quantified the mismatch between Buckhead’s housing options and what is affordable for its workforce. According to a housing market analysis developed by Bleakely & Associates as part of the Buckhead Redefined master plan, about 20 percent (13,500) of employees working in Buckhead can afford monthly rent of no more than $1,500 per month. However, there are only 3,500 apartment units in the Buckhead core with rents at that price point.
Livable Buckhead is now leading an effort to solve the problem, working with the Buckhead Community Improvement District and a steering committee of 35 stakeholders on a study to create actionable strategies for diversifying housing options. Work on the study began in August and is anticipated to take about six months to complete.
“We’re not looking for a silver bullet,” said district Executive Director Jim Durrett said in a news release. “No single strategy will solve Buckhead’s housing challenges, but we’re confident that we can pursue multiple approaches that increase opportunities for people who work here to live here as well.”
HR&A Advisors Inc. has been selected to provide planning services for the project. The company is a national real estate and economic development advisory firm that has led numerous housing and economic development studies in the Atlanta market including conducting an equitable housing analysis for the city of Atlanta and analyzing housing cost drivers for the Atlanta Apartment Association. The Buckhead effort is funded by a Livable Centers Initiative grant through the Atlanta Regional Commission with local matching funds provided by the district.