In Decatur, an Affordable Housing Option Is Preserved, and Improved

The Trinity Walk revitalization has breathed new life into a 50-year-old apartment complex in downtown Decatur

After five decades, the 112-unit Gateway Manor and Oakview apartments in downtown Decatur had fallen into disrepair and needed to be either torn down or fully redone.

With affordable housing in increasingly short supply in the city, the Decatur Housing Authority decided to invest $30 million to redevelop the property with 155 energy-efficient apartments – aimed primarily at families who make 60% of the area’s median income.

The housing complex, two separate sites spanning over six acres, is a powerful example of how existing affordable housing can be not only preserved but improved. Some 95% of the units are subject to restrictions that keep the rent affordable.

The Atlanta Regional Commission recognized the Trinity Walk Revitalization with a 2021 Regional Excellence Award Honorable Mention, presented on Nov. 16 at the agency’s State of the Region event.

‘A transformational community’

“Trinity Walk is more than bricks and mortar,” said Decatur Housing Authority executive director Doug Faust. “It’s a transformational community.”

The complex features state-of-the-art apartments and townhomes. In contrast to the old complex, which had no amenities, Trinity Walk boasts a community center, play areas, and common gardens. Children in grades K-5 have access to an on-site after-school program with local teachers.

“This creates a sense of community,” Faust said. By living in a safe and affordable place, “families are free to focus their energies on health, education, and employment.”

Each unit was built to EarthCraft multifamily and community energy standards. Other features that ensure environmental resiliency include bio-swales on the northern and southern boundaries of the site, which address water runoff, and a rainwater harvesting system that captures rainwater from roofs for landscape irrigation.

An alternative to high rents

Faust said that Decatur is a great place to live, but rents are high. A two-bedroom apartment rents for about $1,900 a month on average, he added.

Most of the families who lived here before the property was redeveloped were able to stay, so that kids could continue attending the highly regarded local schools.

Trinity Walk was financed by equity acquired from the sale of low-income tax credits.

The units have proved popular, with demand far outstripping supply. At the moment, there are more than 12,500 families on the wait list at Trinity Walk, Faust said.

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.