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Reading, writing, renting: Atlanta units aimed at teachers

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 4/17/2021

ATLANTA (AP) — A proposed apartment building in downtown Atlanta could feature 31 stories of teachers.

Developers of the proposed $176 million project called “Teachers Village” say they plan to market 229 of the 438 apartments to Atlanta school system employees.

Invest Atlanta, the city development agency, on Thursday approved giving the project a $26.4 million tax-exempt loan and a $4 million grant. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the grant funding now goes to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for further review.

City school system supporters say the project proposed by RBH Group will encourage more teachers to live within the city.

“It has long been a priority of our school district that our staff, at all income levels, are able to make the city we serve their home,” Atlanta Superintendent Lisa Herring wrote in a letter endorsing the project.

Only 27% of APS’ 3,000 teachers live within the city, according to a 2019 district report. Those who live in the neighborhoods where they teach “are more committed, stay employed longer and have better attendance,” according to the report.

The company has built similar projects in Newark, New Jersey, and Hartford, Connecticut.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who chairs the Invest Atlanta board, said Thursday that the complex will aid workers “who aren’t making six figures, but still want to be a part of the community.”

The average Atlanta teacher makes about $66,000 a year, while a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns about $49,000. Other employees make less, such as bus drivers, some office workers and teacher assistants.

Apartments in the proposed project near Centennial Olympic Park would rent for $813 to $2,060 a month, depending on the size of the unit and income of renters. Of 229 units planned for educators, 140 would be earmarked for people who earn less than the area median income of $82,700.

Another 209 units would be geared toward senior housing. The project also includes retail space.

RBH Group spokesman Lonnie Soury said developers can’t guarantee every apartment in “Teachers Village” will be rented by an educator, but said they plan to target school employees.

Bottoms noted the support from the Atlanta school system, which in the past has opposed city tax breaks for development projects because they reduce tax income to schools.

“It’s great to have something that we’re all on the same page on, and this is going to be great for our community,” she said.

The project is expected to take two years to complete.

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This story was first published on April 17, 2021. It was updated on April 18, 2021 to correct the name of the developer to RBH Group, not RPH Group.

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