The Brookhaven Planning Commission is recommending denial of a proposed senior living apartment development in Lenox Park after the developer asked for a waiver on the city’s new workforce housing mandate.

An illustration of the proposed multiunit residential development in Lenox Park that would be for residents 55 and older. (City of Brookhaven)

The commission voted unanimously at its April 3 meeting to reject a rezoning request by Greystar GP II LLC to rezone four parcels at 1035, 1045, 1055 and 1065 Lenox Park Blvd. for a 188 multiunit residential project for people age 55 and older. The site is currently an approximate 5-acre green space and is zoned for two office buildings.

The project is the first proposed development in the city to fall under the new workforce housing mandate approved as part of the zoning rewrite in November. The ordinance requires 10 percent of a new multiunit residential project to be classified as workforce housing.

“I hope this sends a message to people wanting to develop here,” Chair Stan Segal said when the commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the project.

“We’re serious about having workforce housing and … being much more inclusive in any way we can. That’s what this city is going to stand for,” he said.

Jessica Hill, attorney for Greystar, said the developer believed the project should not be required to provide workforce housing because residents living at the proposed apartment complex would be older and likely living off a fixed income, such as retirement savings. She said the average age of the 39 other similar facilities Greystar has built around the country is 71 and so most people living in the apartments also would not be working.

“This is workforce, not affordable housing, and many [residents] are not going to be in the work force,” Hill said.

It doesn’t matter if someone is retired or working, Segal said, because there may be people who are 55 and older who cannot afford the market value of the proposed apartments. The workforce housing mandate ensures different housing price points, he said.

The city defines workforce housing as that being available to households earning no more than 80 percent of the area median household income (AMI) for the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area. According to the HUD table for 2018, the metro Atlanta median household income, known as AMI, is $74,781. Eighty percent of the AMI for a four-person household is $59,850; for a one-person household it is $41,900.

The general rule currently accepted by many housing experts is that no more than 30 percent of a household’s income should be spent on housing. Thirty percent of $59,850 is just under $18,000 a year on housing, or $1,500 a month in rent; for a one-person household, monthly rent is $1,047.50.

The proposed development would consist of a 5-story, 235,000-square foot building. The portion of the building fronting Lenox Park Boulevard is proposed to be 5 stories with a 2-level parking deck and surface parking to include 225 spaces. A courtyard would go at the back of the development.

The rezoning request now goes to the City Council for a final vote.

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