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As SFR Ownership Slips, Atlanta Innovates And Prepares For The Future

By Donna S. Robinson | July 29, 2014

Walkable neighborhoods inside the city; new multi-family units replacing aging properties, adding more multi-family construction nearer to the inner city, and building fewer single family houses.

Midtown Atlanta

photo credit: Kay Gaensler via photopin cc

The most notable change in Atlanta real estate in many years is the shift away from a focus on single family residential, in favor of multi-family properties with easy walking access to local amenities. It harkens to a time back before world war II, when Atlantan's were more connected to their local environment. And in today's economic climate, it's also a practical response to a housing market that has become unpredictable in recent years.

In the wake of the post WWII "baby" and "housing" booms Atlanta became a city known for it's sprawl long before the 1990's housing boom made it the largest metropolitan area in the USA, with over 4900 square miles of suburban landscape. During the "Ma Bell" era of land-line telephone service, Atlanta was also known as the largest local calling zone in the USA.

But in the post 2008 economic climate it's the inner corridor that is being reinvented to fit 21st century lifestyles. For the younger generation today, who have lived through the first collapse of the housing market since the 1930's, owning a home is no longer "in". Today's up and coming generation are looking for better paying jobs and lower costs of living through renting instead of owning. Plus, being able to walk to local shops, restaurants and events would be nice too; enter the "BeltLine" Atlanta's premier 21st century development project that promises to change the way people live and work in big cities.

Originally envisioned by a Georgia Tech student named Ryan Gravel,who conceived the idea of the BeltLine for a masters thesis he was working on at Georgia Tech in 1999. Atlanta is a city that was essentially created by the railroads of the 1800's. Gravel took 22 miles of those existing rail corridors that encircle the city, and  conceived a plan to re-develop them into 33 miles of "pedestrian friendly rail service along with multi-use trails. Gravel probably had no idea that a crash in 2008 would change the way that his generation thought about real estate. As it turned out, his thesis would become the basis for a re-development project that would "catch fire" with the local communities who would eventually help establish and fund the project.

In addition, The PATH Foundation has been re-purposing hundreds of miles of old railways for pedestrians and cyclists to use to get around the city and the entire metro area. Most notable, The Silver Comet Trail is a hiking / bike path created out of an old railroad line that runs all the way from Smyrna, GA, just outside the city of Atlanta, to the Alabama line, a distance of approximately 90 miles. These innovative projects have arrived just in time for a changing market that values access to recreational amenities that are nearby, and low stress ways to travel around town at a more leisurely pace.

Today Atlanta, along with many other cities across the nation, are facing their first major generational upheaval since the baby boomers changed the world with suburban sprawl and shopping centers in the early 1960's. No one could have predicted that the crash of 2008 would bring such massive changes as rapidly as it did. But Atlanta, always a city on the move, was already preparing for those changes. And while some cities struggle to survive and find their way, Atlanta marches boldly into the 21st century with innovative developments that are improving the quality of life while keeping up with changing real estate market trends.


About the author: Donna S. Robinson is a 18 year veteran of the real estate industry and life long resident of metro Atlanta, GA.   She is the author of "Real Estate Investing Fundamentals & Strategies". Follow her on twitter @donnaconsults  Watch her videos here. read more articles and contact her about coaching or business consulting services on her website.

Donna S. Robinson has been involved in the real estate industry since 1996. A licensed agent and real estate investor, she is a recognized expert on residential real estate investing. Her course, "Fundamentals & Strategies For Real Estate Investing" is approved for CE credit by the GA Real Estate Commission. She has authored several books on real estate investing, and consults with residential investment companies. She also offers coaching services to real estate investors.

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