The developer of a four-story, 65-unit senior apartment complex planned for 2.6 acres on Smyrna Hill Drive has been granted a rezoning request by the Smyrna City Council.
It means construction of the facility could start within 18 months, if financing for the $14 million project is secured, according to developers.
The vacant wooded project site, opposite the Sparkles roller skating rink, was zoned ‘light industrial’ before Prestwick Land Holdings successfully applied to the council for rezoning of the site to ‘residential highrise-planned development’ in order to build the rental housing complex for people aged 62 and over.
Smyrna City Council members voted 6-0 to grant the rezoning request at their regular meeting Monday.
Detailing the application, Smyrna Community Development Director Russell Martin told the council that Prestwick is also applying to be part of a state tax credit program addressing housing affordability, in order to offer the majority of the rental apartments for reduced rates to occupants making 50-60% of the area’s median annual income.
“So someone making half the area’s median income could afford this,” Martin said. “It’s marketed to help subsidize people who aren’t making near as much as the area’s median income. This is not an assisted living facility, these are independent rental units.”
Plans show 24.8 housing units per acre, with the buildings to front Smyrna Hill Drive, separated from the road by a sidewalk and a 12-foot setback.
There would be 53 parking spaces behind the apartment units, at the rear of the property, and eight additional parallel parking spaces along Smyrna Hill Drive to serve as a traffic calming measure.
The apartments would be accessed from Smyrna Hill Drive via an existing full access drive on the east side of the property, plans show.
Martin said 41 of the units would be one-bedroom apartments and 24 would have two bedrooms.
If Prestwick gets tax credits through the affordable housing program, it would offer 11 apartments to occupants making half the area’s median annual income, which in the last census was around $61,000.
Another 43 of the apartments would be rented to people making around 60% of that amount, and the remaining 11 units would be rented at market rate.
Prestwick expects the reduced rate apartments to cost between $650 and $1,000 a month, depending on size.
Smyrna’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously recommended the City Council should approve the rezoning application, subject to a range of conditions, which were imposed.
These included that all utilities within the development will be underground, a stormwater retention pond on the site must be screened from view, streetlights must be installed, and sidewalks constructed inside and outside the complex.
The developer must also be responsible for any traffic improvements deemed necessary by the city.
“The proposed use and development of the property is compatible with existing development and will support existing businesses in the immediate area,” Smyrna community development staff said in a memo to the council about the application. “The zoning proposal would be considered a down zoning of the property, bringing the property from an intensive commercial zoning classification to a high-density residential zoning classification. In addition, the zoning proposal will meet senior housing needs, as outlined in the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in October of 2017.”
Smyrna resident Chuck Young, in charge of development at Prestwick, told council members the company should know within a year whether it has financing for the project, so construction would likely be 18 months away.
Currently the company doesn’t own the property, but has it under contract pending financing, Young said, adding that Prestwick expects to own the property for at least 30 years, or the length of the financing.
“We’ve done a handful of these across Atlanta,” Young said.
He said the project is a “direct result” of the work done by the Smyrna CHARMS Community Housing Team, particularly through its participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing.
“I’m excited to be able to implement some of that vision here in the community,” Young said.
Councilwoman Maryline Blackburn, who represents the area the property is located in, said Prestwick’s project was “great” and supported sustainability for the community.
Martin, the city’s community development director, said the sections surrounding the project site are all zoned for neighborhood shopping and general commercial or light industrial use, and there are no perceived problems associated with the rezoning.
When asked about any potential conflict in having a senior living facility across from the Sparkles rink, Young said none came to mind, and he hoped some of the future apartment residents take up skating.