“the City Too Busy to Hate”

Sometimes remembering hurts but it’s always good to know how far we’ve come. I found the history of Cascade Heights to be bitter-sweet, as what occurred was not very long ago. As per Wikipedia:

Cascade Heights is an affluent predominantly African-American neighborhood in southwest Atlanta. Along with Sandtown and other portions of unincorporated South Fulton County, the area has a reputation as having a high concentration of the African-American elite in the city.

Cascade Heights, or simply Cascade, can refer to a large area that is bound by I-20, on the north, I-285 on the west, South Utoy Creek on the south, and the Adams Park and Beecher Hills neighborhoods to the east. By this definition, this area also includes neighborhoods such as Peyton Forest, West Manor, and Mangum Manor to name a few. This situation can be paralleled to Midtown’s role in Northeast Atlanta; each neighborhood is separate and distinct but the area is still known by one generic name.

Here’s the interesting part:

In the early 1960s the area was a predominantly white neighborhood. After an African-American physician bought a home in Peyton Forest, white residents in the area feared that their neighborhood would become a victim of blockbusting,a business practice in which real estate agents would profit from the racial fears of white residents while changing the racial makeup of a white residential area.

Stop here.

Now, let’s not go on a Real Estate Agent bashing session, these were ignorant greedy people who happen to be agents and making their fortune from playing on the fears of their people (as they were also White). Every culture and race  have a few evil, greedy self-serving people. I remember reading how some Blacks sold other Blacks into slavery (another crazy history lesson for another day…)

Continue:

“When African-Americans moved in to a neighborhood, their presence resulted in lower residential property values because many whites considered an integrated neighborhood to be undesirable. Real estate agents stirred up racial tension and benefited from the commissions they earned when fearful homeowners sold their properties, often at a loss, in order to escape the area.”

But are you kidding me? I understand greedy sales people, but et tu brute– Mayor? —- Read on! 

“In a 1962–1963 episode that came to be called “the Peyton Road affair”, Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen responded to residents’ fears of blockbusting by directing city staff to erect barricades on Peyton Road and Harlan Road to restrict access to Cascade Heights, thus preventing African-American home seekers from getting to the neighborhood from Gordon Road. He took the action at the urging of white residents of southwest Atlanta(in particular, one of his high-level employees who lived a short distance from Peyton Road). After the barricades went up, December 18, 1962,the incident quickly drew national attention. The barrier was compared to the Berlin Wall and nicknamed the “Atlanta wall”. Some newspapers in other parts of the country questioned Atlanta’s motto “the City Too Busy to Hate.” The walls were torn down when, on March 1, 1963, a court ruled them to be unconstitutional.

This event is considered to have helped spur the growth and prominence of Collier Heights, the first affluent community in the nation built by and for African-Americans.”

Whoa! DRAMA- can you imagine living through that?  I can’t, – just thinking,  my mother was alive during this time. Thank God for growth and progress. I  must constantly  remind myself-this was a different time, a different world and that maybe the Mayor did what he thought was best for the overall good??? (I was not there so….)

Notable residents of Cascade Heights include: former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, baseball legend Hank Aaron, former UN Ambassador and mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young, and past national president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and founding member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Ozell Sutton, Dr. Howard W. Grant, current Executive Director/Administrator of the Atlanta Board of Education, and Kandi Burruss, singer/songwriter, record producer, and cast member of The Real Housewives of Atlanta ( Kandi recently bought a new house in a Cascade gated community-Go Kandi!!)

Today, what’s sad are the home values. Cascade Heights was hit  hard in the bust. The wonderful Veltre Estates still has a sign at the corner of Cascade  and  Veltre Circle.  During their development, I knew these would be a treat in Cascade Heights, with only 24home sites!  I found the quality of this builders to be like none other, in a time when everyone under the sun was building out Cascade and Camp Creek.  Throwing up homes in a month, on lots too close for anyone. Jones & Minear Homebuilders left no stone unturned when it came to the details.

Unfortunately home sales went from $599K down to $355K  last in 2011; what an amazing deal on these estates of 5 Bedrooms, 3sides brick and 3 car garage  homes.  This may be a great area to keep an eye on for a future short sale.

Here’s an old sales website– see how drastically they were reduced…

No worries, Cascade Heights will rebound. It’s a perfect location- perfect for those wanting to live close to the city, but maybe a bit tired of living in a really urban area.  The land is cheap enough for investors to purchase and rebuild new construction-although, to really have an impact on value the builder will need to do more than a few homes. I love the look of the older homes on Boulevard Granada and Boulevard Lorraine, but I can picture many new single family homes on these streets similar to what was done in Washington Park, since there are a few without character. – Don’t sleep on Cascade Heights- a good investment area!

Have you heard of Midwest Cascade?

Most will know it just as  “Cascade”  or “New Hope Road area”- maybe even “Niskey Lake area”..but this is Midwest Cascade. Midwest Cascade is located south of Cascade Road, along Regency Center Drive

The Atlanta City Council voted to annex Midwest Cascade to the City of Atlanta on September 29, 2006. See HERE . This area is said to be the fastest growing NPU(NPU-Q) from 2000-2010, I’m sure most of the growth was during the housing boom in the early years of 2000 as much of the new construction was during this time and started to top off in 2006.

What’ the housing stock in this area? Varied, from newer (now old) McMansions to brick ranch homes on the lake!  This area is a nice surprise in Cascade, few know about it and once shown,  you’ll consider buying here! Many of the new subdivision are gated- which provides much privacy for the owners but not a lot of sight-seeing for those who love practicing  HGTV’s House Hunters. Even the foreclosures maybe hard to get into, without a code (and pre-qual) many agents will pass.  These communities seem to remain privy to the “who you know”  BUT beautiful Niskey Lake is open for all to tour, explore and hold-on-to-your-seat as you turn the sharp curves towards the lake.  Unfortunately, it’s been my experience that may of these homes on the lake seem to have water issues in their basements…I’m not sure if it’s water from the lake, due to poor development or age.  Nonetheless, if you can repair- you will be very proud when giving directions to your house-warming!

Have you seen this 7,700sq feet gem! 4030 ANNECY DRIVE FMLS #5001433 – this amazing 3 level  home boasts 6bedrooms 5full baths and 2 half baths, 3 car garage, in ground pool,theater room and much more  for under $1Million… compare this to intown Atlanta….enough said-this is a deal!!

“The Bluff”

….We’re not in Kansas anymore….

At least, that’s what you would think after reading Wiki:

“The Bluff is a district within the area that is infamous throughout metro Atlanta for the availability of drugs, heroin in particular.

The borders of The Bluff are defined differently by different sources. For example the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Creative Loafing both defined The Bluff as including all of English Avenue and Vine City. However, a more recent and in-depth December 2011 series of reports by 11 Alive TV news, referred to The Bluff as a “section of English Avenue”. The English Avenue/Vine City area has some of the highest poverty and crime rates in the city, with the Carter St. area surrounding the Vine City MARTA station ranking in 2010 as the #1 most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta and #5 in the United States.”

Who would want to LIVE here?

… Apparently, MANY. Not only the long time residence fighting for the redevelopment of this area, but also the many investors who dropped a boat load of money in the area trying to flip houses across from the Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center…..There HAD to be some special plans for this area at once-something special.  Who would spend this amount of money developing such a beautiful building knowing it’s patrons would have to tip-toe from Marta across the street, past the drug house, robbers and pan handlers?

I’m not saying its not lacking their share of revitalization, nor is it crimeless- and yes, it could be dangerous if you are walking down the street at 1am texting on an IPhone, carrying a laptop bag and sporting an “I LOVE NY” T-Shirt- yes, you could be calling for some trouble. HOWEVER, as a person 5’1 (barely) and 110lbs- I have never feared kicking in a vacant house to take a home tour.

But why the bad rap? Where did it come from? What’s the history of this community?

“What is now the English Avenue neighborhood was purchased in 1891 by James W. English, Jr., son of Atlanta mayor James W. English. It was developed as a white working-class neighborhood. Simpson Road was long a residential race barrier with whites to the north and blacks to the south.Today’s English Avenue was known at different times as Bellwoodand as Western Heights (I like this name!) . In 1910 the Western Heights school (later renamed Kingbery after a principal of the school, then renamed English Avenue Elementary School) was built at the northeast corner of English Ave. and Pelham St

The area south of Simpson Road — today’s Vine City — was settled at the end of the 1800s by large land owners, and a predominantly African-American residential area was established, though there were also white subdivisions, schools, and churches. A mix of social classes were present. In 1910 Alonzo F. Herndon, founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, built his home at 587 University Place, now listed on the National Register and open to visitors

During the mid-20th century, the area was a middle-class African-American neighborhood.Commercial areas included English Avenue; Simpson Street/Road, in its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s; and Bankhead Highway, which was part of the US Highway system, and was in its splendor in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. moved to the area in 1967, and his widow Coretta Scott King continued to live here until her death.

Suburbanization started draining the area’s vitality starting in the 1970s.Over the following decades, it attracted buyers and sellers of heroin, and deteriorated into a corner of poverty in the city, characterized by large numbers of abandoned, boarded-up houses.”

Will Wal-Mart aid in the revitalization of this community? I don’t think Wal-Mart had a clue about the possibilities and  impact their opening could make. They may have only viewed their bottom line and were offered  benefits to open here. But if they cared, Wal-Mart can be the a major player in the redevelopment of this area now dubbed a “food desert” .

Here’s a history of the revitalization efforts:

“In 1999, the Atlanta Housing Authority first announced plans for the “Historic Westside Village”, a $130 million commercial, residential and retail project at the area’s southern end near Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. at Ashby St. A Publix supermarket opened in May 2002but the overall project stalled by 2003 as further anchor tenants did not materialize. This, along with disappointing sales, caused the Publix – the only full-sized supermarket for miles around – to close in December 2009.Creative Loafing called the project the most notorious “municipal boondoggle…to have tarred Atlanta” during mayor Bill Campbell‘s era; the project “fell victim to…cronyism, bureaucratic incompetence and a flagrant disregard for federal lending guidelines”.In December 2010 things looked up as the Atlanta Development Authority announced plans for Wal-Mart to open a store on the site.”

Yikes. Now putting all that aside, I know you did NOT come here for a history lesson. However, I believe it’s imperative to know the history and direction of the community you plan to invest.  Understanding this could help your decision.  When you purchase, you invest more than money- you invest a part of you.

What’s left to buy in The Bluff?

Right now, as an investor I’d buy a few to hold (of course rent them, because vacant homes do nothing for communities).

IF you can find any. Many of these homes have already been hit by the bust- and have been resold as REO’s/ Foreclosures between the years 2007-2011.. it’s pretty quiet now with new listings- but that does not mean these homes are occupied and not available.  I have found a few come up- off line – or off the MLS grid as investors trade packages or “owner finance” homes directly on Craigs List and other By Owner sites. Keep an eye out- some investors may be ready to dump since the revitalization is not happening as rapidly as they need and can no longer afford to hold. Other circumstances, such as the new vacancy registry and a code enforcement crack down (after the urging of the community) are forcing these MIA investors to pay upon registration or repair and rent their homes. I also know a few investors with portfolios that maybe ready to release.

The bottom line- there are still deals in this area.

FMLS# 5075795, 486 Paines Avenue SW  is sitting pretty at $25K

P.S. Have you seen the movie “Snow  on tha Bluff”?? I tried but my ears are sensitive LOL.. too much “realness” for me..

Is Loft living for you?

Interested in living on the Westside?  Take a stroll down Marietta Street and be amazed by the transformation.  The inviting sleek developments and industrial loft conversions will make you consider changing your wardrobe to ALL black and opening a gallery (which is not a bad idea!).  I love the clean lines and mod feel of the new Westside, not to mention my favorite store (Room& Board) is nicely holding it down.

How did this New Westside spring up before out eyes and what’s the history behind it?  Read about the history of the Marietta St Artery HERE

Where would one live over here? If it were me, in a Loft- naturally! However if you can’t find an old industrial loft (which are in limited supply) why not a new mid/high-rise?   The White Provision,built in 2009 has a few NEW models available for you to make your own.  2bed/2bath listed for $500K+ they also offer  take abatement to 2022, paid HOA and $4K towards your closing costs- garage parking, pool, fitness center are the amenities. See more HERE

I did manage to see 1 listing in the wonderful KING PLOW, a nice live/work FMLS #4273301 – get this, the list price will include ALL furnishings. Ready to run a business in your PJs?

There is much history in this area to be explored. In between shopping, take a stroll and view the architecture, appreciate the change and what is restored. Here’s info from Wikipedia:

The area began as an industrial area along the railroad line northwest from Atlanta even before the American Civil War — the Western and Atlantic Railroad line was completed in 1837. In 1881 the International Cotton Exposition was held at the north end of the corridor, for which the Exposition Cotton Mills were built. Mule-pulled trolleys brought workers starting in 1882, and these became electrified in 1894.[4] The area continued as an industrial and warehouse area, though the commercial strip along Marietta Street suffered with suburbanization starting in the 1960s. In the 1990s, several adaptive reuse projects kicked off (Hasting’s Seed Company, The Carriage Works, King Plow Arts Center, and the Allied Warehouse #2), signaling the renaissance of the area.[5]

Bellwood was annexed to the city of Atlanta in 1897.[6] The neighborhood of Bellwood was officially renamed Marietta Street Artery in the 2000s.

Need easy access to Georgia Tech?

Have you looked in Home Park for your new home?   In this market, a home purchase may be more affordable than renting-and a better investment. 

Not familiar with Home Park?  Home Park was developed in 1901 as housing for workers at the Atlantic Steel Mill located where Atlantic Station is today. Over time and due to the schools’ close proximity, it has developed a large student population, being a popular alternative to on-campus housing at nearby institutions Georgia Tech and Georgia State University, resulting in a low owner occupancy rate. Because of its location directly south of Atlantic Station and north of Georgia Tech, it has recently seen an increase in property values and development

*Information from Wikipedia*

Here’s a good listing in Home Park- affordable with enough space for a roommate!

FMLS# #: 5066049    1102 Center Street NW  3bedrooms/2 bathrooms  list price $253K