Beltline pushing $50 million bond package, would include $7.5 million for affordable housing

It’s been more than five years since project officials took on debt to fund the Beltline

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For the first time in more than five years, Atlanta Beltline officials are preparing to go to Wall Street to ask for more than $50 million in new funding, $7.5 million of which would help pay for affordable housing along the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and transit the over the next few years.

Approximately $2.5 million of that cash would go toward an economic development program for communities near the Beltline. The remaining $40 million would help pay for projects already on the books and waiting for funding.

A separate series of bonds would pay back $19 million to the city and Atlanta Public Schools under an agreement the three entities brokered last year to resolve a long-running dispute over payments the Beltline owed the school system. Beltline officials would also refinance previously issued bonds. Project officials must also consult with a citizen advisory group that oversees the project and the Beltline’s affordable housing efforts.

The board of directors of Atlanta Beltline Inc., the entity tasked with planning and developing the project, this morning unanimously approved a revised annual budget that included the bond package. (Here’s a brief spreadsheet on the budget.) The city and Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, must approve the bond package before it can move forward. The city would issue the bonds.

Marshall Norwood, ABI’s chief financial officer, said an improving tax digest and low interest rates played a role in the decision to go to the bond market. Paul Morris, ABI’s president and CEO, said bond lawyers recommended the bonds be issued before the November presidential elections to avoid the uncertainty that comes with selecting the country’s next leader.

If approved, the Beltline would have $9.7 million total in earmarked funding to create affordable housing. Beltline officials are far behind their goal of creating 5,600 units for people living on low incomes near the project, in part because of the Great Recession’s effect on the housing market.

We’ll have more on this morning’s meeting and budget later today. 

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the exact amount of Beltline affordable housing funding and correct number of units ABI hopes to create.