Finley Street Cottages


I don’t envy being a housing developer. Complex housing codes regulate where you can build, how many homes you can make, and how much parking needs to be available in these communities. If parking isn’t considered, it can lead to a disaster similar to the Atlanta Braves stadium Truist Park. However, there’s a recent phenomenon in the residential market, which is the no-parking housing development.

The name is self-explanatory. A no-parking housing development allows real estate developers to get more creative with new properties. They can experiment with different configurations, occupancy limits, and designs if there isn’t a need to make every unit externally accessible to a parking lot or parking deck. This also provides more livable square footage since each home or unit doesn’t need to have a garage. Finally, it allows for the space that normally would be used as a parking lot to be used for other space activation purposes. Examples of these include playgrounds for children or adults, outdoor chess sets, murals, or other types of placemaking.

There are more pros than cons to a no-parking housing development, but this is all dependent on the local city’s infrastructure being able to support public transit. While the coronavirus lead to an increase in the number of jobs that are 100% remote or virtual, there are still many people that commute to work. Whether they commute by car, bus, bicycle, or train, every housing development needs to have access to multiple ways to get across any given city. Even if you work remotely, there are still times when you need to leave the house for personal or social reasons. No one stays at home around the clock. A no-parking housing development puts all of the emphasis on the local transit system, but it puts people into a strange predicament if the local transit system isn’t diverse enough to quickly move people from point A to point B. Which is why I was very intrigued to learn about Finley Street Cottages.

Finley Street Cottages is a new housing development in the Edgewood area of Atlanta that will be opening up in the next few weeks. This area is within walking distance of the Edgewood/Candler Park MARTA Station, which is the only rail transit available in downtown Atlanta. Finley Street Cottages is a no-parking housing development, and all residents are encouraged to either use MARTA or bicycles to traverse the city. However, if you live in Atlanta, you know how impractical it is to get around the city without having a car.

MARTA’s coverage of the city is sorely lacking, as the trains and buses don’t reach Cobb County. Cobb County is the third largest county in Georgia according to the 2020 census, with an estimated 760,000+ people living there. However, MARTA has been unsuccessful in every attempt thus far to expand its coverage of the metro Atlanta area. So if you were to live in the Finley Street Cottages and you had a job in Marietta for example, it is impossible to get there without driving, carpooling, or using a rideshare service.

The opening of Finley Street Cottages makes me wonder if anyone on the Dekalb County Planning Commission considered how feasible it is to live in downtown Atlanta without a car. I think it’s a noble goal to have an area where you are actively promoting the use of bicycles, walking, and other public transit. But if the city’s infrastructure isn’t built to support that, it seems ambitious at best and disingenuous at worst.

This comes a few months after the Atlanta Beltline project awarded the Murphy Crossing housing development contract to Culdesac, Inc. Culdesac is a developer based out of Tempe, Arizona and they are best known for the 1,000-person unit they’ve built that is also a no-parking housing development. Culdesac taking over this project sounds promising if you live, work, and play only on the Beltline, but this could potentially cause a huge problem for Atlanta residents who don’t fully understand what they’re sacrificing. If they live in this type of neighborhood, they now have to park on the street and risk their car being broken into or exclusively use rideshare services which can be very expensive if it becomes part of their daily travel routine. Compounding this with the rising cost of living expenses in general, this represents potentially another barrier to home ownership if that is your goal.

I’ve voted four times in the last two years and I don’t recall seeing this issue on any of the ballots. Where’s democracy when you need it?

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Author of The Powers That Be

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