Decatur Next

The ARLO Opens

For-rent trend continues, adding to the diversity of the city’s residential offerings

Bordered by East Trinity Place and East Howard Avenue, the ARLO is a mixed-use project offering 210 studio, one and two bedroom apartments, ground level retail, and a handful of live/work units. Like other downtown residential projects, it received no tax incentives or similar subsidies.

Contributing to city efforts to improve the pedestrian experience connecting downtown with southside neighborhoods, the site is an assemblage of three previous parcels — a distressed, 3 story motel; a DeKalb County facilities garage; and a locally beloved, freestanding Dairy Queen franchise. Negotiations by the city’s Downtown Development Authority allowed for the Dairy Queen’s return in one of the project’s retail spaces.

One interesting hurdle arose during the process, illustrating the complexities of multiple interests inherent in urban development. Both the city and developer sought a design with active uses along both bordering streets but no financial partner was willing to take the risk of so much leasable space along the rail line. Ultimately a compromise was worked out in which the bulk of the East Howard stretch is devoted to the parking deck. Recognizing this is less than ideal aesthetically, the developer committed to a large format mural to enhance the facade’s appearance.

Bringing multiple goals together

Though this project, like similar projects coming online, is new construction with commensurate higher-end rents, it still plays an important role in longer-term affordability strategies. By increasing supply for those seeking market-rate rentals in prime, downtown Decatur locations, these new apartments reduce existing market pressure, and thus price escalation, on our more limited inventory of older, second-tier units. Further contributing to the city’s affordable and workforce housing goals, the ARLO offers 21 reduced price “Lifecycle Dwelling” units for individuals and families who meet the 80 percent median income requirement.

Building an active population of downtown residents has been a city priority since development of 1982’s community-driven Town Center Plan. In practice, such developments (either condo or for-rent) have been net-positive contributors to local tax revenue, paying notably more than they take out in city services and associated infrastructure, including schools. Such residents, drawn by a walkable, car-lite or car-free lifestyle, further contribute to the health of our downtown businesses, both independent and chain, providing for a wider variety of offerings and experiences for locals and visitors alike.

The ARLO apartments. Click for larger view.

 
 
 
 


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