A program by MARTA to encourage development on land outside some of its rail stations is taking a big step forward.
Atlanta-based development group Columbia Ventures started construction this week on the latest high-density development, this one at the Edgewood/Candler MARTA station in a burgeoning part of the city.
The mixed-used development is anchored by a 224-unit residential community, called Spoke, to be accompanied by a performing arts center and park.
Under MARTA CEO Keith Parker, the system has expanded efforts to develop underused parking lots and other land near its stations. The idea is to drive ridership and revenue while also helping reduce the impact of additional density on the region’s streets.
Many of MARTA’s more suburban stations are surrounded by fields of parking. The idea when they were developed was to encourage commuters to park and ride the train to work or other events.
Now the thinking is that development atop MARTA stations can encourage denser, more walkable communities at key transit nodes. The real estate push comes as metro Atlanta businesses and many residents are increasingly seeking locations near transit.
The best known example of development centered around MARTA is the Lindbergh station in Buckhead, where private developers built apartments, condos, retail and office space — including MARTA’s headquarters.
Site work at the Edgewood/Candler station, which is near the Edgewood Retail District and Little Five Points, started last week.
MARTA also has projects in various stages of planning or development with private development partners on system-owned land at its Chamblee, Brookhaven/Oglethorpe, King Memorial and Avondale stations.
In most cases, the land to be leased or sold is underused parking lots. MARTA said last year it has more than 25,000 parking spaces, but less than half are used on a regular basis.
Separately, the State Farm corporate campus rising in Dunwoody is an example of a private company and its developer building a “transit-oriented” project on its own land at a MARTA station.
“Through the redevelopment of our underutilized parking lots we are creating transit-oriented communities that drive community development and promote MARTA ridership,” Parker said in the release.
Columbia said it plans to open the first phase of Spoke in early 2018. The complex also will include a restaurant and headquarters for youth organization Moving in the Spirit. Future phases are planned.
Columbia is in talks about the potential for nearly $2 million in tax breaks from the city of Atlanta to set aside a portion of the units in Spoke as affordable housing. A decision is pending.
Dillon Baynes, managing partner for Columbia, called the project “the culmination of over 15 years of work in the Edgewood community” for the firm.
Columbia is also the development partner with MARTA for the Avondale station mixed-use community, which is expected open its first phase in 2018, according to a MARTA development timeline.