Photo/Atlanta BeltLine

One trip to our Southern neighbor Atlanta is all you need to see what a sprawling metropolitan area it is with lots of buildings, traffic and people. But Atlanta is taking a look at how to redevelop itself into a more sustainable area with public transit, green space and affordable housing.

The $2.8 billion redevelopment project – dubbed the Atlanta BeltLine – is expected to shape Atlanta’s growth for the next several decades. According to the website, the project “provides a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other.

“The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment projects currently under way in the United States.”

It certainly sounds impressive, but how does affordable housing fit in? The plan, over the next 25 years, is to create some 5,000 new units – both rental and owner-occupied – of affordable housing by setting aside 15 percent of the net proceeds of the BeltLine Tax Allocation District bond proceeds to the BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Learn more about the affordable housing piece of the project.

The BeltLine also anticipates generating billions of dollars in economic development and thousands of new jobs, including a job policy to train local residents first for BeltLine jobs.

Check out this video on the project and how it works.

It’s great that Atlanta has taken the initiative to incorporate affordable housing into this massive project from the beginning rather than inserting as an afterthought. What do you think? Should affordable housing be part of Charleston’s regional development plans?