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Success Of Pill Hill Project Could Determine Future Multifamily Approvals

For Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, North American Properties' Pill Hill apartment project is the big experiment to see if people will truly live close to where they work.

In December, the Sandy Springs City Council approved a 305-unit apartment project by North American Properties off Johnson Ferry Road on the famous Pill Hill that will have 10% of its units designated as affordable housing. The controversial $55M project had some residents concerned that it would only exacerbate traffic in the area, according to a story in Reporter Newspapers.

Rusty told our audience during the Central Perimeter 2016 event last week that “the jury is still out” on whether residents living next to employment centers would actually work there. Citing the North American Properties project, Rusty says if renters still have to commute elsewhere to work instead of at the hospitals, then the city council likely won't approve more such multifamily projects. Rusty says developers “need to be part of the solution” on traffic and have very focused marketing to encourage nearby workers to live there instead of just anyone willing to pay rent. “My successor...will simply say no,” Rusty (here speaking with AJC reporter Scott Trubey) says. “We're at a critical point. If we can't get rid of the traffic mess in the community, then the answer will be no” to further apartment development.

Rusty was part of a lineup of government and commercial real estate officials at our event at The Retreat at Perimeter Summit, including JLL's Kay Younglove (who moderated), Hotel Development Partners' Allen O'Brien, Ackerman & Co's Pat Chesser (here), Perimeter Community Improvement District's Yvonne Williams and Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal. Pat says because land prices and construction make rents on new development so expensive, apartment owners have to rent to anyone willing to pay the monthly freight. His solution would be to create smaller units that could have lower monthly rental price points. That could encourage nearby workers to rent there.