The city of Sandy Springs’ program to provide homes along the Hammond Drive corridor for first responders to rent could be expanding soon.
Since 2016 the city has purchased 28 properties along Hammond between Glenridge and Boylston drives as part of its plan to eventually widen the road from two lanes to four. Sandy Springs has spent $15,000 per home to refurbish each one if it was in good enough shape to be used as a rental house for police officers or firefighters. But if the city spent at least $5,000 more per house, it may be able to save more of them from demolition.
“We could probably save a couple of them,” Deputy City Manager Dave Wells said. “… If that would be the desire of council, we could increase the limit.”
Wells’ comments came, ironically, at the Sandy Springs City Council’s Oct. 6 meeting, where the council voted 6-0 to approve Complete Demolition Services’ $185,650 bid to raze 11 homes along Hammond. The meeting was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Complete’s bid was second to LMS General Contractors’ bid of $129,230, but LMS had a scheduling conflict so it had to withdraw.
However, Wells said, none of the 11 homes up for demolition were in good enough shape to save as rental houses for first responders.
“We had a lot of mold issues in them,” he said. “A lot of them … were in really bad condition.”
Wells said the city is renting four Hammond corridor homes to first responders and was renting a fifth, but problems arose in that one.
“One of the properties on Kayron (Drive) had numerous sinkholes with lots of flooding, so we had to move a police officer out of that house,” he said.
Since it could be five years before the city moves forward on the Hammond widening project because Sandy Springs won’t likely start construction on it until the next five-year round of TSPLOST (transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax) funds are approved by voters, salvaging the homes for now is a good idea, District 3 Councilman Chris Burnett said. “If these were in better condition, would there be enough demand from the public safety officers (to rent) each one?” he said.
Wells replied, “I would probably say the public safety officers would like it.”
Burnett later added, “Given how long it will take to develop this corridor, if we could get 10 years of housing, since you talk about officers wanting to live in the community where they serve, this would be a good investment.”
According to a map posted to the city’s website, the 13 remaining city-owned lots in the corridor are vacant, and there are at least seven properties on the north side of Hammond, where the widening will likely take place, that Sandy Springs still has not acquired yet. So, some of those could become rental houses for first responders.