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The promising plan for an empty lot on Auburn Avenue

Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) is putting something in a long-empty property, pictured below, that sits on Auburn Avenue near its intersection with Hilliard Street. This is good news. The amount of disused space on this historic street, and along the streetcar track that runs on it, has been a burden for too long.  Progress of any kind is a positive, but this project looks particularly promising due to its affordability component and its public engagement.

Empty property on Auburn Avenue, where a development is planned

The plan is to fill this space with a three-story mix of residential and commercial. Dubbed “The Front Porch,” it’ll have retail spaces on bottom with apartments for rent for sale above. HDDC was approved for Eastside TAD financing for the project, at the December, 2019 Invest Atlanta Board meeting. The rendering at the top of this post comes from the project’s Loopnet listing.

According to the Invest Atlanta documents, the development will also involve the “repurposing” of two nearby buildings, including the former Haugabrooks Funeral Home (below), as well as a surface parking lot.

Haugabrooks building on Auburn Avenue

HDDC hosted a community-engagement session about their plans in October (pictured below, from their Instagram account), and attendees we’ve spoken to report that they’re hopeful about a positive outcome with this development.

HDDC public event about Front Porch

Curbed Atlanta has a full writeup on the planned mixed-use structure, along with multiple renderings of it. 

To get an idea of how beneficial this is going to be for the neighborhood, we reached out to LeJuano Varnell with Sweet Auburn Works (SAW), an organization that advocates for preservation-based redevelopment while also supporting the retention of existing residents, businesses, and architecture in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.

Varnell says that part fo the importance of Front Porch is that it’s going to provide an “inventory of lowered commercial rate space in the neighborhood,” something that allows opportunities for “home-grown small businesses.”

He also says that it’ll deliver “affordable home ownership opportunities” that create “a path for long-time renters to have an equity stake in the growth of the neighborhood.”

Here’s a look at the mix and pricing for residential units on the development, from the Invest Atlanta document:

Price breakdown for residential units at Front Porch

Similarly, HDDC has partnered with a developer on an under-construction condo building on a formerly-empty property at 22 Airline Street in Old Fourth Ward. Most of the homes are being sold at market rate, but they’re maintaining ownership of some of the units so they can sell/lease at affordable rates.