Will Atlanta's Beltline Be Solely For The Wealthy?
"A new study by a nonprofit housing group claims that land values are rising so quickly around Atlanta's proposed Beltline that the resulting property-tax increases threaten to drive thousands of poor people from their homes.
If the city does not set up tax breaks and other incentives to help low-income homeowners keep their houses, the proposed 22-mile loop of park and trails ringing downtown will create a circle of wealth and an outer ring of concentrated poverty, warns the Georgia Tech professor who conducted the analysis.
"The Beltline is a great idea - unless we're going to build it on the backs of poor folks," said Dan Immergluck, an expert on real estate and community development. "If it's just going to be for one income, higher incomes and people with shiny new homes, from a public policy perspective, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense."
A Beltline official said the study reveals a problem that leaders want to address.
The 39-page study, scheduled to be released today by the affordable-housing advocacy group Georgia Stand-Up, shows that in the past six years, property values within an eighth of a mile of the proposed Beltline rose at a rate much faster than most other parts of the city. Values rose most sharply in the southern part of the proposed loop.
Clarice Mackie, a 17-year resident of southwest Atlanta, said the report confirms what her neighbors have known for years.
"Our taxes have jumped," said Mackie, 58. "Houses that once cost $30,000 suddenly started appraising for $150,000 .... No building had happened there for years. Then this Beltline came out and all these speculative builders came in here." "