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Homeowner says she’s being forced to pay thousands to change historic district home she didn’t alter

WSB Atlanta logo WSB Atlanta 9/27/2021 Justin Gray
© Provided by WSB Atlanta

An Atlanta woman says the city is making her pay thousands of dollars to renovate her home that doesn’t need any repairs or upgrades.

The reason they can require her to make those changes is she lives in an official historic district.

Shaina Riggins told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray that she was in love with her 1960s Collier Heights home in northwest Atlanta the moment she saw it.

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More than a year after buying the home of her dreams, the city of Atlanta is ordering her to make several changes. She is being required to strip the paint from the bricks, replace the siding and add a screen door, iron railing and 1960s windows.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, you bought a renovated home, change it back,’” Riggins said.

Riggins’ home is one of 1,700 in the Collier Heights historic district.

Collier Heights was one of the first suburban developments in the country developed by African-Americans for African-Americans. Early residents included civil rights pioneers like Martin Luther King Sr. and Ralph David Abernathy.


The City of Atlanta established the historic district in 2013 with limitations on the types of renovations you can make to the homes to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

Riggins, though, didn’t make any changes to the home. She says it looks the same as when she bought it.

“I’m gonna have to find money I don’t have to take away everything I love about the house,” she told Gray.

The city says that when living in a historic district, it doesn’t matter if you made the changes or not. They released a statement saying,

“If there are zoning, design, construction or code issues related to a property, those items follow the property even when the ownership changes hands. The responsible party is the property owner at the time action is taken by the City about the issue, regardless of when the issue first occurred.”

Riggins took her case to the Atlanta Urban Design Commission last week. They told her this was an issue they were seeing more and more.

“If that were me, I would be very frustrated,” said Commissioner Desmond Johnson.

“I’m concerned about the fact that developers are coming into these neighborhoods and essentially making potential homeowners victims,” said Commissioner Fredalyn Fraiser.

The board still voted unanimously to require Riggins to change the home.

“As a commission, our role is to really maintain a hard line with the district regulations and the guidelines,” Johnson said.

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Riggins is now left potentially facing tens of thousands of dollars in changes to a home she likes just the way it is.

This isn’t going to attract more owners like me. Investors maybe. They’re not going to live in these homes and care,” Riggins said.



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