A Southside Atlanta tiny home community sold out. More are coming.

Situated in College Park on a quiet suburban drive sits a set of 29 futuristic homes. The large glass facades of the houses path the sustainable walkways lined up with solar panels and edible gardens. 

It’s the dense, walkable modern community that many urbanists dream of. The catch? No home is over 650 square feet. 

The South Park Cottages community created by Techie Homes is the latest micro-home development in metro Atlanta. It’s also the first built by a Black developer, according to several Atlanta outlets. The development is situated on a tucked-away drive off Old Bill Cook Road.

Booker T. Washington, founder and CEO of Techie Homes, a real estate development company that constructed South Park Cottages, grew up in College Park. He sees the community as a way to bolster minority homeownership, which experts say is a way to build generational wealth and lessen inequities. But some criticize the tiny home trend, saying the square footage isn’t large enough for the price.

South Park Cottages BS2

South Park Cottages, a community of micro-homes located in College Park.

Byron E. Small

Aiming for affordability

Homes in South Park Cottages sold starting at $195,000 for a 335-square-foot plan, with the largest floor plan at 600 square feet costing $230,000. All homes sold for their list prices, Washington said. Buyers began occupying their homes in July.

Washington’s prices are much lower than the median home price in Atlanta, which was $439,000 in June, according to Redfin.

With increased interest rates and rising home costs, tiny homes are an alternative that could diversify and increase homeownership.

Washington believes the prices at South Park Cottages will allow customers who were previously renting apartments at similar square footage to now own a detached home for a similar cost. The average rent for a one-bedroom in Atlanta is $1,750, according to Zillow as of July 31. Rent Cafe says the average square footage is 786 square feet.

Growing up in College Park, Washington felt discomforted by the economic stagnation he witnessed. He says the South Park neighborhood has been designed as an ecosystem of poverty that “doesn’t get the upgrade in shops that you would see in Buckhead or Sandy Springs.”

“We’re trying to reverse that trend,” he said.

South Park Cottages buyers range from 25 to 65 years old and include civil servants, tech workers, and retirees, Washington said. About 70% of the owners are Black or brown. Washington says he has assisted South Park homebuyers with $200,000 in closing assistance costs to offset moving expenses. Mortgages are also FHA-certified, government home loans that require lower down payments, allowing broader access to purchasing a home in the community.

Homeownership rates

According to the U.S. Census, Black households have the lowest homeownership out of any group in the country. Only 44% of Black households owned their homes in 2021, compared to 73.3% of White households.

Atlanta has the highest Black homeownership rate in the country, according to Karen Beck Pooley, who teaches political science at Lehigh University. However racial disparities are still present. 

Black homeowners and renters remain more cost-burdened than any other racial group, according to the National Association of Realtors, which found in a recent survey less than 10% of Black renters can afford to buy the typical home in the U.S.

Though micro-homes aren’t traditional, they still provide equity for the owners. A micro-home near Trillith Studios in Fayetteville sold for $270,000 and is worth $390,000, according to Zillow. At The Cottages on Vaughn, a micro-community in Clarkston, a home sold for $152,000 in 2020 is now valued by Zillow at $176,000.

Washington’s model is working. He said he has a 60% return on his project and is planning a similar, 26-home community in nearby Union City. Homes will range from 600 square feet to 700 square feet, a slightly larger size than South Park. It’ll also include ranches, as well as a retail space which will be owned and operated by residents. 

South Park Cottages BS1

South Park Cottages, a community of micro-homes located in College Park.

Byron E. Small

Worth the price?

But micro homes, which were initially viewed as an escape from the increasing housing costs, have now become a topic of controversy throughout the country because of their high price per square foot.

According to Rocket Mortgage, homeowners spend around $150 per square foot to buy a new construction home. Out of the 29 homes, Washington’s cottages were priced at an average of $470 cost per square foot.

A micro home in Duluth, Minnesota, sparked outrage throughout the state for its 200-square-foot floor plan and $195,000 sticker price. That’s $950 a square foot. To compare, a five-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot home listed for $1.1 million in Buckhead, one of the most expensive Atlanta neighborhoods, costs $388 a square foot, according to a Zillow listing.

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