Phillip Kash has a question the city of Sandy Springs is grappling with as it decides how to redevelop some parts of the city in a smart way.
“How does Sandy Springs want to position itself to attract more housing stock and more affordable housing?” said Kash, a partner with HR&A Advisors Inc.
Kash and Matthew Bedsole, a senior analyst with HR&A, talked about that issue as they gave a presentation on the city’s housing needs assessment during the Sandy Springs City Council’s Nov. 3 work session. The two also gave a similar, more preliminary talk on the subject at the council’s Oct. 20 work session.
The city has plans to revitalize its north end, including partnering with developers to transform four blighted shopping centers into mixed-use projects that include housing components. Other parts of Sandy Springs, especially along the Roswell Road corridor, could also see redevelopment.
“We placed our needs on homeowners, renters and employers. (At the Oct. 20 work session) we tried to frame most of our research and analysis with eight distinct subareas within the city,” Bedsole said during the Nov. 3 work session.
The eight subareas are categorized geographically, with Nos. 1 and 2 in the south end of the city, the next three in the middle and the last three in the north portion, according to a presentation document posted to the city’s website.
“The main two points here are the entry-level housing and the aging population,” Bedsole said. “Sandy Springs lacks entry-level, single-family homeownership opportunities. 81% of single-family homes are sold above $400,000, a price that is generally unattainable to most households making less than $115,000 annually.
“Overall, like I was saying, homeowners and households in the city broken up by income. The $100,000 to $150,000 or more (income levels) represent 61% of households.”
Affordable housing remains a hot topic in Sandy Springs, with advocates saying they hope any new development or redevelopment includes homes low- and middle-income individuals and families can afford.
According to the presentation document, from 2011 to 2018, growth by income for households making less than $50,000 a year has declined by 2, 3 and 27% in the city for household income levels of $35,000 to $49,999, $20,000 to $34,999 and less than $20,000, respectively. Also, new homes being built in the city cost too much for families making those incomes to afford.
“Related to new construction, we broke down where the construction is occurring today,” Bedsole said. “There’s not a tremendous amount of new condos that have been built over the past couple of years.”
At the Oct. 20 work session, he said Sandy Springs’ population increased with an additional 5,000 households from 2011 to 2018, with most of those new residents being middle- to high-income ones.
“Sandy Springs is experiencing a greater rate of growth for households making $50,000 to $150,000. During this time housing costs have gone up,” Bedsole said, later adding, “You do have a rapidly aging population here, so that’s a concern.”
District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio asked him and Kash, “In your analysis, the large portion of the housing stock was built in the ’70s and ’80s and most of the new development came since 2010. What conclusion do you draw from that?”
Kash pointed to a slide on the presentation document that stated, “More than 3X as many multifamily units were built in Sandy Springs in the 2010s compared to the 2000s, but these units still represent only 15% of the total multifamily stock.”
He added the city’s apartment communities are in good shape because the rents are reasonable and the city’s code enforcement department has done a good job of regulating them.