Decatur Next

Cortland Decatur East Opens


In 2002 Decatur developed its Avondale Station Area Plan, an ambitious vision for the city’s southeastern quadrant, bordered primarily by East College Avenue, S. Columbia Drive, and Derrydown Way.

Nearly 15 years later, its first transit-oriented development (TOD) was finally under construction.

Cortland Decatur East occupies nearly 8 acres of what was previously the station’s south parking lot and features 378 market rate apartments, 92 affordable senior living units, an elevated plaza, and 22,000 square feet of commercial space. Its central parking deck accommodates all uses on site, including daily MARTA commuter parking.

The project is among a growing number of MARTA initiatives designed to transform station parking lots into vibrant neighborhood centers.

Developers worked collaboratively with the city and other interests to integrate the emerging East Decatur Greenway PATH trail into and throughout the project, creating a pivotal pedestrian and bicycling connection between Legacy Park, the PATH Stone Mountain Trail, and neighborhoods north of the tracks.


Though this project, like similar projects that have come online, is new construction with commensurate market-rate rents, it still plays an important role in Decatur’s long-term housing strategies. Steadily increasing demand for in-town living continues to exert pressure on communities like Decatur. By increasing supply for middle-income earners seeking market-rate rentals in prime Decatur locations, these new apartments help reduce market pressure on our more limited inventory of older, more affordable second-tier units which are preferably retained as workforce housing. And by providing safe and affordable senior living in proximity to transit, they further provide ideal mobility options for those no longer able or willing to drive.

Building an active population of downtown and transit-adjacent residents has been a city priority since development of 1982’s community-driven Town Center Plan. In practice, such developments (both condo and 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. To wit, analysis by the City Schools of Decatur found that the number of enrolled students in each of the city’s large-format multifamily buildings fell below projections and, taken collectively, those building contribute in excess of $2.5 million in net school funding each year.

Residents drawn by a walkable, car-lite or car-free lifestyle further contribute to the health of our businesses, both independent and chain, providing for a wider variety of offerings and experiences for locals and visitors alike.

This MARTA-produced video documents the system’s history with a particular focus on the Avondale station:

Left: Cortland Decatur’s sky deck facing north. Right: Columbia Residential’s affordable senior housing.

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