Is redevelopment finally starting in Bedford Pine? - Daily Agenda - Atlanta Magazine
 
 
 

Is redevelopment finally starting in Bedford Pine?

Wingate’s ‘precedent-setting’ new building could replace a vacant lot on Boulevard

In 2005, on the day before Thanksgiving, a fire destroyed two apartment buildings in the Village of Bedford Pine and left sixty people homeless. In the eight years since, the corner lot at Boulevard and Angier where the apartments once stood has remained vacant. During that time, Wingate Companies, which owns and manages Bedford Pine, the largest Section 8 subsidized housing project in the Southeast, has talked about redeveloping that lot—and dozens of other properties it owns along the Boulevard corridor.

It looks like something’s finally going to happen. This evening, at a joint meeting of the Fourth Ward Alliance and Fourth Ward West community associations, Wingate will present its plans for City Lights, a new Section 8 building on the lot at Boulevard and Angier.

Although there’s been friction between the neighborhood associations, Wingate, and Bedford Pine in the past, relationships improved over the past year as Year of Boulevard projects helped the various groups get to know each other, and Wingate repainted, repaired, and refurbished its properties.

While some residents are wary about new Section 8 housing, overall response to City Lights has been optimistic. After all, Wingate’s new building would replace a lot that’s been empty for almost a decade. And with development booming a few blocks east at Ponce City Market and Historic Fourth Ward Park, residents are eager to see something happen along Boulevard proper.

“I think people want to have a positive outlook on this. New construction would really refresh Boulevard,” said Dan Weinstein, vice president of the Fourth Ward West neighborhood association, which represents an area roughly bounded by Boulevard, the Baker-Highland Connector, and North Avenue. “Something attractive with good landscaping will go a long way toward improving the neighborhood.”

It took two-and-a-half years navigating the bureaucracy at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for Wingate to secure approval for City Lights, according to Ralph Cole, who flew down from the company’s Boston headquarters a few weeks ago to discuss the planned building with a group of community leaders.

Here’s what makes the project “precedent setting,” according to Cole: Wingate’s proposed “City Lights” development will be a facility of eighty one-bedroom apartments dedicated for residents aged 62 and up.

This will be the first time HUD approved a Section 8 property to be designated for seniors only; to avoid discrimination, the department previously prohibited setting aside units based on any demographic designation. By reserving a building for older residents—or “bifurcating” the residents of Bedford Pine in HUD speak—Wingate will meet a growing demand in Atlanta, where the number of senior citizens is rising.

“This is a new national model,” Caleb Racicot, senior principal with Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates architecture and planning firm, told the group, which gathered at the TSW offices in Midtown in late May. It also is “truly urban” design and complies with the Old Fourth Ward master plan created a few years ago, he said.

All eighty of the one-bedroom City Lights apartments will be Section 8—designated for low-income tenants who qualify for federal rent subsidies. But this will not mean a net increase in subsidized apartments in Bedford Pine. Wingate’s total apartments can’t exceed 733, the number approved for Bedford Pine by HUD in the 1970s. Building City Lights will allow Wingate to remodel or redevelop at least five of its existing buildings as non-Section 8 projects.

To put it bluntly, here’s what this means in the long term: Diluting the concentrated poverty on Boulevard. Right now, the 2,400 residents of Bedford Pine represent more than a quarter of the Old Fourth Ward’s population. If some Wingate properties become non-Section 8 and other lots on Boulevard are redeveloped, it would bring in more working- and middle-class residents. That could mean more stability in the neighborhood, more customers for businesses and restaurants, more kids enrolled in local schools, and more people out on the streets and sidewalks.

And unlike gentrification in other sections of Atlanta, an influx of new, presumably more affluent, residents will not drive out longtime, poorer ones. Wingate has a contract with HUD for the next two decades. Bedford Pine isn’t going anywhere—and no one wants to displace the 700 families who live there. But this first step in long-awaited redevelopment could be a catalyst for making the Boulevard corridor a better place for everyone who lives there.

After community presentations, Wingate's City Lights development plan will be reviewed by the city zoning board June 13.

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  1. ctfatlanta posted on 06/03/2013 09:43 PM
    I don't believe the statement that "no one wants to displace the 700 families that live there" is a true statement. I think lots of people would love for Bedford Pines to be bulldozed while lots of people want the area improved for those that live there.

    I like the idea of a senior Section 8 building, but I feel there is a need for 2 and 3 bedroom units to reflect the number of grandparents who are helping to raise, and sometimes have custody of, their grandchildren.
  2. Cycle posted on 06/03/2013 11:20 PM
    Looks like cheaply built infill in a bad neighborhood. Give it a few years and it will look horrible continuing the cycle of keeping this neighborhood depressed. Especially given Wingate will continue to be the sanctioned slumlord there for the next 20 years. As long as Wingate remains on Boulevard nothing will change. I have no idea why they are being rewarded for what they've allowed to go on there.
  3. Fourth Ward Proud posted on 06/04/2013 08:58 AM
    Old Fourth Ward residents have worked long and hard with Wingate to come up with solutions to improve their properties, reduce crime and make sure that poor, working class and older residents aren't displaced. It's been well settled neighborhood policy that development progress should not come at the expense of long time residents or the poor. While many in neighborhoods surrounding the O4W in NE Atlanta would rather see this population removed and scattered, that's not going to happen, not if we have anything to say about it.

    Wingate should build more 3 and 4 bedroom units. Not just for its current population, but for working class and middle income families that desire an Intown location, close to jobs, public transportation, shopping and other amenities. They might be instrumental in showing private developers that a demand exists for family-sized housing in the center of the city.

    The housing for older residents, some of our very best current neighbors, is merely a first step. It's about time.
  4. DH-ATL posted on 06/04/2013 01:49 PM
    Some architecture firms should no longer be allowed to practice based on design quality-- judging by this rendering-- this is one of them--
  5. United States Citizen posted on 04/12/2014 10:18 AM
    I think Bedford Pines Apts are okay to live because it is near and close to e everything. Its not the apartments it is who lives in them or who be in them so if they were to crack down on all that killing and other stuff then yes it would be a great community for.families.that really need that place to live based on their income or other situations that could be going on and if bedford pine is their to help those.in need or based.on their income or situation then the rent office shouldnt lsten to he say/she say gossip about another person until they talk to that person their self to find out whats going on and that will also make it a good community.
  6. United States Citizen posted on 04/12/2014 10:19 AM
    I think Bedford Pines Apts are okay to live because it is near and close to e everything. Its not the apartments it is who lives in them or who be in them so if they were to crack down on all that killing and other stuff then yes it would be a great community for.families.that really need that place to live based on their income or other situations that could be going on and if bedford pine is their to help those.in need or based.on their income or situation then the rent office shouldnt lsten to he say/she say gossip about another person until they talk to that person their self to find out whats going on and that will also make it a good community.
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