A core pillar of the East Lake Foundation’s holistic model is mixed-income housing. The most visible representation of this commitment is The Villages of East Lake, a 542-home community with a mix of market-rate and publicly subsidized apartments, townhomes, villas and garden apartments
Soon, that community will be growing, providing more affordable housing for families in East Lake. Earlier this summer, Columbia Residential, in partnership with the East Lake Foundation and CF Foundation, broke ground on The Villages of East Lake Phase III, a new mixed-income apartment complex.
This new development will further the East Lake Foundation’s goal to broaden its impact in the East Lake neighborhood and at Charles R. Drew Charter School.
“There’s extensive academic literature that makes this very point, but when you compare a 100 percent affordable housing development to a mixed-income one, it’s just night and day with regard to the positive impact on the residents and community as a whole,” said Ben King, the Development Project Manager with Columbia Residential for Phase III, which is slated to open in Spring 2020.
While the existing Villages of East Lake have a traditional look, King said Phase III will feature a more modern design. Located adjacent to the Publix at East Lake facing Fayetteville Road, this 108-unit apartment complex will include fixtures that are common in Class A developments across Atlanta, including luxury, vinyl-plank flooring throughout and uniform, black-finished appliances.
Shared amenities will include a community room, fitness center, business center and wellness center that will be staffed by medical personnel as part of a partnership with the East Lake Foundation. There will also be a direct pedestrian access point from the complex to Publix.
Phase III will be certified as an Enterprise Green Community. The Green Communities Criteria brings the improved health, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable construction practices to low-income families.
Neighborhood residents had the chance to weigh in on the planning and design of Phase III, as Columbia Residential and the Foundation held several meetings with representatives of the East Lake’s neighborhood association to share plans and collect feedback.
Structuring Phase III as a mixed-income community is critical to its long-term success. Of those 108 units, 70 percent will be rented at an affordable rate to families who earn 60 percent of area median income (AMI) and below, including 20 percent of the units at 50 percent of AMI and below. This provides a pathway to prosperity and opportunity for low-income families in the area.
Because of the revitalization of the East Lake community, the area has transformed into one of the most diverse and in-demand neighborhoods in Atlanta. As the need and desire for housing in East Lake increases, so too do property and housing prices. According to King, the investment in Phase III ensures that affordable housing options remain for those who need them, while increasing access to Drew Charter School — the top-ranked school in Atlanta Public Schools.
“It’s ensuring there is a community here for everyone, and that’s in line with the Foundation’s mission,” said King. “For instance, all of the students in Phase III will be able to attend Drew Charter School. By extending the availability of the Drew Charter School’s education to more students from a low-income background, you’re making sure it remains a mission-driven institution.”
And the Foundation can leverage those same market forces which push prices upward to its advantage.
“Systematically, the financial structure of mixed-income housing relies on that market rate component because you still have a portion of your property that is competing with other ones for residents,” said King. “You’re marketing it and investing in it, and there’s a sense of pride that permeates across the community and all of these factors create a desirable and stable living environment.”