From accessory dwellings to coliving units, Atlantans are finding new ways to share space

Doubling down on density

Cottages on Vaughan in Clarkston
Cottages on Vaughan in Clarkston

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Long before Covid-19 clamped down upon so many Atlantans’ livelihoods, skyrocketing housing costs and other ills of gentrification were forcing city dwellers—especially younger ones—to get creative when it came to living arrangements. That trend has only accelerated since the pandemic, and in some cases, developers are doing the adapting. The result could be revolutionary new ways of living in metro Atlanta—all efforts to keep housing affordable beyond buddying up with extra roommates. A quick rundown:

In December, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms supported a plan outlined in the Atlanta City Design Housing Initiative to allow rentable accessory dwelling units (ADUs) throughout the city, rather than just in specified districts. As the ordinance stands, “guest houses” are widely allowable, but renting that unit long-term classifies it as a more restricted ADU. Proposed zoning changes would make it easier for renters to lease a basement apartment, garage conversion, or tiny home around back.

Sales are already underway in Clarkston at what’s billed as Georgia’s first “tiny home neighborhood,” with eight offerings ranging from just 250 to 500 square feet on a half acre. Prices at Cottages on Vaughan have ranged from about $100,000 to $145,000. Meanwhile, south of town at the mixed-use Trilith community, a more posh version of tiny living has sprouted with 13 cottages—seven former rentals with a modern bent and five French Provençal–style options announced last April. Those microhomes max out at 535 square feet, and brokers say typical sales prices have been in the high $200,000s.­

It might seem counterintuitive, but the pandemic seems to have whetted Atlanta’s appetite for coliving rentals, where multiple tenants share some common areas. The concept was introduced here by an organization called the Guild, which turned a building on Auburn Avenue into Awethu House, affordable housing for creatives and “changemakers.” Now, plans for coliving buildings with hundreds of units are moving forward in Reynoldstown and along the BeltLine’s Southside Trail, and a 31-story coliving tower has been proposed in Midtown.

They might not qualify as affordable, but microapartments continue to be mainstays at flashy new intown sky-rises. Those include sub-500-square-foot studios fetching about $1,500 monthly at the recently finished Generation building that overlooks Centennial Olympic Park.

Even Ponce City Market is dipping its toes in outside-the-box housing concepts, with plans brewing for a 400-unit, hotel-ish “hospitality living” tower. Occupants of the one- or two-bedroom flats could stay either for a single night or for several years. Prices TBD.

This article appears in our April 2021 issue.