After unexpected delay, Atlanta Housing reissues call for Bowen Homes site developers

Atlanta Housing (AH) last week issued another request for proposals to redevelop the Westside’s Bowen Homes public housing site, nearly three months after the agency backburnered choosing a master developer to focus on an unrelated legal dispute. 

Unused and overgrown since a wrecking crew razed the housing project in 2009, the 74-acre site could house hundreds of lower-income families and help rejuvenate the environs just north of Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, the fast-changing thoroughfare snaking through the historically underserved Westside. 

Developers now have until June 20 to respond to the RFP for “a development that will transform this part of the Westside with market-quality affordable housing in a mixed-use, mixed-income, and amenity-rich setting,” according to the solicitation. 

AH chief Eugene Jones told Atlanta Civic Circle in late January that the housing authority had narrowed a slate of master developer candidates to five firms. 

AH’s board of commissioners was scheduled to choose the lead developer for the Bowen Homes site at its February monthly meeting, but when Mayor Andre Dickens unexpectedly announced he’d helped broker a deal between AH and developer Integral Group over an unrelated, years-long land dispute, the agency tabled the Bowen Homes decision to instead focus on the proposed settlement.

By placing the Bowen Homes project on hold, AH missed the deadline to apply for a U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant worth up to $50 million to revitalize the 74-acre site and surrounding communities. The agency intends to apply for the HUD grant next year, according to Jones. 

AH’s RFP for the Bowen Homes site envisions some 2,400 market-rate and affordably priced residences, as well as a community resource center offering youth programs, an innovation hub providing workforce training, green space, and a grocery store.

The RFP outlined three options for the site’s revival: a mixed-use plan with ground-level office space, retail, and entertainment in addition to housing; a high-density residential focus with mid-rise apartment stacks and parking decks, surface lots, and street parking; and a medium-density residential option with “small multi-family buildings, duplexes, townhouses, and other creative housing types.”

The housing authority intends to tap a master developer at its Sept. 28 board meeting and then execute a master development agreement by Jan. 27, 2023.