Atlanta BeltLine Raises the Specter of 'Environmental Gentrification'

Large-scale adaptive reuse projects like the BeltLine in Atlanta receive praise in many circles. But they can also release a flurry of speculation, severely threatening affordability.
September 14, 2017, 10am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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TimothyJ

As we saw in July, Atlanta's BeltLine has come under fire for paying scant attention to future housing affordability in its vicinity. Dan Immergluck continues on that vein in Shelterforce, writing that "absent a fundamentally new approach to redevelopment planning that places housing affordability at the center of the process, large-scale sustainable development projects are likely to become engines of what has been termed 'environmental gentrification.'"

The project derives part of its funding from tax increment financing (TIF). "As the BeltLine's principal funding mechanism, the TIF redirects increases in property tax revenues that arise after its establishment to project-related expenses rather than to the regular general revenue budgets of the city, county, or school district."

Immergluck writes that around the BeltLine, property values have already risen substantially, despite the fact that the project isn't set for completion until 2030. "Without addressing affordability well before groundbreaking, there will be far less ability to provide for inclusive development in which affordable housing remains viable in the long run."

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