Surge of new housing around Decatur MARTA hub to continue

The push to create housing nodes next to MARTA transit stations across Atlanta and neighboring municipalities continues to make progress.

MARTA officials announced today the development partnership of Columbia Residential and Decatur Housing Authority has closed on financing to build another phase of Transit Oriented Development next to Avondale station on the eastern fringes of Decatur, along MARTA’s Blue Line.

The project, called Decatur East Phase II, is slated to deliver 80 more units of affordable senior housing with direct access to MARTA transit. Expect one and two-bedroom units with amenities designed for seniors who have a range incomes below 80 percent of the area median income, according to project officials.

Next door, 92 units of similar housing were opened in the project’s initial phase in 2018, alongside hundreds of other apartments.

The next phase of MARTA’s Cortland Decatur East is under construction behind the standing apartments.

An unspecified amount of financial support for the second phase is being sourced from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, City of Decatur, Decatur Housing Authority, and DeKalb County. Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said in today’s announcement the city is leveraging its tax allocation district, which “allows for the use of incremental tax dollars for affordable housing infrastructure,” to help make the project a reality.

Hundreds of new housing units have joined MARTA’s Cortland Decatur East in the corridor over the past several years, in both Decatur and Avondale Estates.

The trend is continuing just west of the MARTA station today, where a project called Halo East Decatur has cleared a full block to build 370 more rentals, plus retail and plaza space.

MARTA general manager and CEO Collie Greenwood acknowledged in today’s announcement that capital markets remain challenging for new developments, but that investor demand still exists for transit-connected affordable housing communities. It’s been nearly three years since MARTA sold the two parcels totaling 1.45 acres next to the rail station to Columbia Residential, citing the firm’s track record of delivering affordable senior units.

The second phase of senior housing is considered one of the two final pieces of the southside master TOD plan outlined by MARTA, the City of Decatur, Columbia Ventures, and developers Cortland.

The scope of MARTA’s TOD development to date and how it connects to Avondale station.

MARTA says similar mixed-income developments that have opened near stations in recent years—specifically Marchon at King Memorial station and the Quill complex in Edgewood—quickly reached leasing stabilization within six to 12 months.

Diana Stoian, Columbia Ventures’ VP of Investments, said Quill’s lease-up was the fastest the company has experienced, with 40 units being rented per month over a peak leasing period of three months. “The fact that it was a TOD,” said Stoian, “and offered units affordable at 80 percent of AMI was a huge help in that process.”

We’ve asked MARTA officials for Decatur East Phase II construction timelines and will update this story with any additional details that come. [UPDATE: 6:17 p.m., Jan. 18: MARTA officials send word that construction has begun this month on the senior housing venture behind the standing apartments, and that the first units are expected to be available in late summer 2025.]

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