What Will Happen to Frazier Street Tenants?
If luxury apartments are approved, current residents will have to move; but where?
(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct working title for the proposed complex, which is "Canton Street City Walk.")
As the city looks to capitalize on the energy surrounding its historic district, a proposal to build luxury apartments on Frazier Street has some questioning where current tenants and others will find affordable housing in Roswell.
Affordability aside, the aging Frazier Street Apartments have been a visible issue locally for quite some time.
"This is one of the areas that has been identified for years as needing redevelopment," said Councilwoman Nancy Diamond. "It came close just before the economic downturn and then was put on hold."
So the Frazier Street Apartments have stayed. Even with little to no updating, the low-cost housing units typically stay full.
That's because the affordable housing options in Roswell are limited. Roswell Housing Authority Executive Director Scott Marcelais said the waiting list for one of the authority's units is long.
"Our process is [a] very formal, waiting list opening only periodic because we get so many applicants," he told Roswell Patch in an e-mail.
However, thanks to mortgage revenue bonds - which "use the proceeds to finance low-cost mortgages for lower income first-time homebuyers or the production of apartments at rents affordable to lower income families," according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies - there might be an answer, said Marcelais.
In Roswell, Belcourt, River Pointe, Chambrell, Rosemont Wood Creek and Creekside apartment complexes might be options for displaced tenants to move, depending on the current vacancy rates.
Long-time Roswell resident Janet Russell believes convenience to stores, public transit and walk-ability to living services are just some of the reasons the current Frazier Street Apartments have been there so long. She worries that, if ousted by the luxury apartment proposal, current tenants won't speak up for themselves since some of them may be illegal.
It's "a real problem if these people are displaced and are expected to live without these amenities when [they] don't have a car," she told Roswell Patch.
But, it's not an issue in which the city has direct oversight, said Diamond.
"We as a city don't have any legal mechanism or right to require housing in any particular price range," she said, speaking to the fact that development and redevelopment is done by private business.
According to Diamond, Roswell has a shortage of several different housing types, including high market rate, smaller units and workforce housing.
But, the increasingly pricey historic district probably isn't where workforce housing is going to be found in the future.
The Frazier Street "property will be quite costly to redevelop, so rebuilding low income housing on this site would likely not be feasible," Diamond said.
If developers get the go ahead to redevelop from Roswell City Council in May, the current apartments will be bulldozed to make way for a luxury complex, tentatively called Canton Street City Walk. The proposed plans are possible thanks to last year's approval of the Groveway zoning form based code by council.
"The Groveway code helped send a signal that there was serious interest on the part of the community to help make some positive change," said Diamond. "I think we will see more redevelopment in the Groveway area, as there are a number of distressed properties, but that first catalytic project can definitely help jump start others."
Diamond believes both the community and the council will focus greatly on how each proposal that comes forth - including Canton Street Walk - will fit into the character of a neighborhood "that is so unique, historic and cool."