Gentrification and the Subsidizing City

In the following excerpt from the third chapter of Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First Century Atlanta, author Dan Immergluck examines how a dysfunctional public finance system has exacerbated inequality in Atlanta.

Excerpted from Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First-Century Atlanta by Dan Immergluck, published by the University of California Press. © 2022. Used with permission of the publisher, University of California Press. All rights reserved.

In his introduction to this excerpt for Atlanta Studies, Alex Schwartz highlights how Immergluck’s work helps us think about Atlanta’s failures to capture growth and economic development for the betterment of the people.

Alex Schwartz’ Introduction, “Growth for Growth’s Sake”

Many cities in the US have long endured population loss, economic decline, and entrenched poverty, leaving them with precious few means to revive their fortunes and assist their most vulnerable residents.1 Atlanta is not one of these cities. To the contrary, Atlanta is one of the nation’s most dynamic metropolitan areas, attracting millions of new residents, generating millions of new jobs, and experiencing massive amounts of new residential and commercial real estate development.  Atlanta is indeed a “red hot city,” the apt title of Dan Immergluck’s new book.

And yet, the benefits of this growth have largely eluded Atlanta’s low-income residents, Black residents especially.  Red Hot City is a tale of repeated missed opportunities to tap into Atlanta’s growth to provide affordable housing and other vital resources for the city’s least affluent residents.  Over and over, Atlanta’s growth and development presented opportunities to secure land, housing, and tax revenue to assist low-income residents. Time and again, the city’s leaders passed up on these opportunities, making Atlanta less and less inclusive.  

A key outcome of Atlanta’s growth and gentrification is what Immergluck calls the “great inversion.” In 1990, prior to Atlanta’s three-plus decades of booming growth, the city was markedly poorer and Blacker than the metro area as a whole. On average, a city resident earned less than 60% as much as her suburban counterpart. More than two-thirds of the city’s population was Black, and only 27% of the adult population had graduated from college.  Three decades later, in 2019, the city’s median income exceeded that of the metro by 10%. Less than half of Atlanta’s population was Black, and the majority of its residents were college graduates. While it’s possible that some of the city’s growing prosperity reflected the income and educational improvements of its long-time residents, it’s much more likely that it reflects the arrival of more affluent and better educated residents, and the displacement and exclusion of low-income and Black residents. Moreover, this exclusion is not limited to the city of Atlanta. Immergluck also shows how developers have “repositioned” “tired” rental properties in inner-ring suburbs for more upscale households—pushing lower income people to the outer reaches of the metro area.

The 1996 Olympics marked the first inflection point in the Atlanta’s transformation.  Corporate executives and civic leaders saw the Olympics as a way to signal Atlanta’s attraction as a corporate, cosmopolitan center. But first, they felt it was necessary to clear the city of its public housing, especially public housing situated in conspicuous downtown locations. Atlanta, like many other cities, chose to demolish rather than renovate its public housing. It sometimes replaced public housing with smaller-scale, mixed-income developments offering far fewer units for low-income families, and sometimes didn’t replace them at all—instead offering displaced public housing residents with Section 8 rental vouchers to use in the private housing market. Immergluck points out that this decision to downsize Atlanta’s public housing depleted the city of a vital resource, which became apparent later when rising rents and gentrification made it much harder to find rental units that qualified for the Section 8 program, or with landlords willing to accept vouchers.

A second missed opportunity to harness the city’s growth and redevelopment for the benefit of existing residents was the Beltline, a 22-mile system of trails and parks linking numerous inner-city neighborhoods. Immergluck chronicles the development of the Beltline and how it triggered millions in new real estate development and rapid increases in home prices and property values. He documents how the city had ample opportunity to acquire sites for affordable housing at low cost during the early phases of the project sites but failed to do so, and similarly failed to shield existing residents from rapidly rising rents and property taxes.  The city eventually increased funding for affordable housing in the Beltline area, but only after land prices had risen to drastically limit the scope of these investments.

A third missed opportunity to support low-income households was the city’s anemic response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis of 2007-2012. Atlanta was hit particularly hard by the subprime-fueled housing crisis, with thousands of homeowners, a disproportionate number of them Black, facing foreclosure and many more who were “underwater,” having lost all of their home equity. During this period, when property values were depressed, Atlanta could have used federal funding and local resources to assist struggling homeowners and to acquire foreclosed properties to preserve them as affordable housing. Instead, the city enabled private equity firms and other investors to purchase these properties on the cheap and convert them to market-rate rentals. 

In this excerpt, Immergluck examines several other missed opportunities to leverage the city’s growth for the benefit of its less affluent residents. These are not specific events but instead reflect a “fundamentally dysfunctional” public finance system.  Immergluck refers here to excessive property tax exemptions given to large real estate projects located in prime neighborhoods, to a tax appraisal system that systematically under-values large commercial properties, and to biases in the property tax system that favor larger and more valuable single-family homes. “Rather than having much more revenue to address issues of affordable housing, repairing sidewalks, and other essentials,” writes Immergluck, “the finances of the city remained highly constrained. This begs the obvious question as to why a city should bother to promote economic development and growth if a significant portion of that growth is not captured by the tax system so that in can be reinvested in improving the lives of ordinary citizens.” 2 

This is a question worth pondering, not only for Atlanta but many other cities in the United States that promote growth for growth’s sake. More broadly, Red Hot City shows that racial and economic exclusion are not inevitable consequences of economic forces.  Cities can, to varying degrees, leverage private investment for the public good, and implement policies and programs to protect vulnerable populations from the negative consequences of such investment. Immergluck recognizes that state governments and the courts constrain the latitude for local initiative. But even in Georgia, a state controlled by a staunchly Republican governor and legislature, the city could have done more to support its low-income residents from the displacement pressures of gentrification and growth. It barely even tried.  

Alex Schwartz, Professor of Urban Policy, The New School

From Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First Century Atlanta

Racialized Gentrification in the City of Atlanta

When looked at over the last three decades or so, the data make clear that the city of Atlanta has undergone a fundamental change in trajectory, one that can only be characterized as significant, racialized gentrification. The city has shifted towards a less Black, more affluent, and more college-educated population. If current trends continue, there will be little room for lower-income Black families. The city’s Black population will likely shrink to become a substantially smaller share of the overall population. If Atlanta remains a Black Mecca, it already appears that it is the region, more than the city, that plays this role and welcomes most new Black residents. The gentrification of the city, which began at a larger scale in the 1990s (despite some earlier instances in a few select neighborhoods), paused briefly during the foreclosure crisis, but then accelerated rapidly, coming out of the crisis during the national housing recovery. Atlanta was not alone in experiencing this quickened pace of gentrification after 2012 but was part of what Derek Hyra and his coauthors call “fifth wave” gentrification, enabled by global capital moving rapidly into urban housing markets in new, heavily financialized ways.3 The crisis had left millions of vacant properties in its wake, often at very low values, prime material for speculation and revalorization as housing demand reemerged. Global capital surpluses that had pushed into private-label loan securitizations in the 2000s were still chasing yield and favored real estate investments. Private equity markets were flush with “dry powder,” and single- and multifamily rental housing was a prime target.

Over the longer 1990 to 2019 period, the city’s population grew from just under 400,000 to over 506,000, with most of the growth occurring after the end of the foreclosure crisis in 2012. (There was a small annexation in December of 2017 that increased the city’s population by about 6,400, but this was primarily college students and accounted for only about ten percent of the city’s population growth of over 63,000 from 2012 to 2019, and did not have a material impact on the demographic changes described here or in Figure 1 below.4) The median family income in the city grew dramatically, from just over $50,000 in 1990 (in 2021 inflation-adjusted dollars) to over $96,000 in 2019 (also in 2021 inflation-adjusted dollars), for a real, inflation-adjusted increase of about ninety percent over this period. The family poverty rate in the city dropped from 24.7 percent in 1990 to 15.5 percent in 2019.

Three statistics paint a vivid picture of the magnitude of gentrification in the city since 1990 (see Figure 1).5 First, the Black share of the city’s population declined from sixty-seven percent to forty-eight percent over these three decades. So the city went from being two-thirds Black to just under one-half Black. From 2012 to 2019, a period of substantial real estate investment flowing into the city and the height of growth around the Beltline, the city went from majority- to minority-Black. A second graphic statistic is that the share of adults twenty-five and older who had a college degree or higher increased from twenty-seven percent to fifty-six percent from 1990 to 2019, so that the college-educated percentage of the population essentially doubled.

Finally, the ratio of the city’s median family income to that of the metropolitan area as a whole increased from 0.60 in 1990 to 0.85 by 2007. During the foreclosure crisis, gentrification slowed, and incomes overall in the region fell. But then, from 2012 to 2019, the city-to-metro income ratio increased again from 0.87 to 1.10 so that, over the post-crisis recovery period of only seven years, the city had gone from being significantly lower income than the suburbs to significantly higher-income. Over the broader thirty-year period, the city had truly undergone a major shift, what’s been called a “great inversion,” where the core city is a place of increasing affluence, and where lower-income families are less welcome and pushed to the suburbs.6

Lawton Street Overpass Rendering (

The city’s gentrification was not just the result of higher-income households moving into the city but also a product of a decline in low-income households. The number of families below the poverty line dropped by approximately twenty-nine percent over the thirty years. Some of this was due directly to the demolition of public housing, but much of it was because the city had become increasingly expensive, and low-income families were often forced to look elsewhere for housing.

Fig. 1: Demographic Change in the City of Atlanta, 1990 to 2019. Data sources: 1990 Decennial Census; 2007, 2012, and 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

Gentrification in the city accelerated after the foreclosure crisis ended as the real estate economy regained steam. Demand by investors, renters, and homebuyers in the city surged, and the growth in both rents and home values began a long period of strong appreciation. From early 2013 to early 2021, all zip code areas of the city saw home values increase by over thirty-five percent, with over half the city’s geography seeing values more than double (see Figure 2). The largest increases, exceeding 200 or even 300 percent over eight years, occurred in neighborhoods on the south, southwest, southeast, and west sides. These were mostly areas that still have significant Black populations, with the more expensive and historically whiter north and northeast sides of the city experiencing slower but still mostly strong gains in value.

Fig. 2: Changes in Home Values, 2013 to 2021 by Zip Code, City of Atlanta.

Rising home prices were accompanied by rising rents and by the shrinkage of the lower-cost rental stock. In 2010, the city had just over 32,000 low-cost rental units, defined here as those with a gross monthly rent of under $700 (in 2010 dollars), which was affordable to a renter earning about $28,000 per year.7 Accounting for inflation, the corresponding threshold in 2019 for low-cost rental units was $800 per month (in 2019 dollars). By 2019, the number of these low-cost rental units in the city had dropped to just under 25,000, for a loss of about 7,000 low-cost rentals over the nine years. The city experienced a loss of more than one out of five of its low-cost rental units, the stock that is affordable to low-income Atlantans, over this period. While some of this stock was likely in need of repair, it was usually converted into much more expensive units if it was redeveloped. In the meantime, the number of rental units overall ballooned due to a boom in new, much more expensive apartment buildings, most of which began with one-bedroom rents at $1,500 per month or higher. From 2010 to 2019, the number of occupied rental units grew by about 24,000 units, increasing almost twenty-five percent. Many of the newer multifamily rental buildings were built in the traditional multifamily corridors in Midtown and Buckhead, but a significant portion were added in areas around the Beltline, especially near the eastern part. The bulk of the new units rented for over $1,500 per month, with many renting for over $2,000 per month. In 2019, more than 41,000 of the city’s rental units had gross rents of over $1,500 per month. A comparable rent, adjusted for inflation, was about $1,250 in 2010, but in 2010, there were only about 19,000 units priced at that level. The higher-cost rental stock had effectively doubled over the nine years, while the low-cost stock had declined by more than twenty percent.

Bungalows in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. Source: Wikipedia.

In a relatively brief seven-year period coming out of the foreclosure crisis, from 2012 to 2019, Atlanta had moved from being a city where most of the population was Black and not college-educated with a median income well below that of the suburbs, to one that was minority-Black, majority college-educated, and with a median income significantly above that of the suburbs. The gentrification trends that had begun during the 1990s had reached a full head of steam, and the city was now on a rapidly gentrifying trajectory. In fact, a study by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia identified the city of Atlanta as the fourth-fastest gentrifying city in the U.S. from 1990 to 2014, trailing only Washington, D.C., Portland, and Seattle.8 Others in the top ten included Sunbelt cities such as Austin, Charleston, Raleigh, and Richmond. The study found that one-third of the city’s ninety-seven low-income tracts experienced gentrification over this period, which these authors define as a very large increase in college-educated adults compared to other neighborhoods across the U.S. Moreover, because this study did not capture most neighborhood change after 2012, it missed much of the accelerated gentrification during the post-crisis period of “fifth-wave” gentrification.

Giving Away the Store: Government Fails to Capture the Benefits of Rising Property Values 

In the city of Atlanta, there have been at least three structural problems with the property tax system and development subsidies that combined to create a public finance system that is fundamentally dysfunctional. These include 1) two competing development authorities operating in the city that have given excessive amounts property tax breaks to large commercial real estate projects, mostly in hot-market neighborhoods where subsidies are not needed; 2) a fundamentally skewed property tax appraisal system that favors large commercial property owners who pay specialists to get their appraised values lowered too far below true market value; and 3) property tax limitation policies that disproportionately benefit owners of larger and more valuable single-family homes.

An overarching result of the structural problems with property taxes and subsidy practices has been that, despite the city’s land values growing tremendously from the beginning of the 2010s through the end of the decade, the citizens of Atlanta, especially the non-property-owning ones, did not benefit nearly as much from the city’s growth and increased land values as they should have. Instead of the public coffers benefitting from the growth in population and land values, the vast majority of the benefits accrued to landowners, speculators, and investors. Rather than having much more revenue to address issues of affordable housing, repairing sidewalks, and other essentials, the finances of the city remained highly constrained. This begs the obvious question as to why a city should bother to promote economic development and growth if a significant portion of that growth is not captured by the tax system so that it can be reinvested in improving the lives of ordinary citizens. The answer, unfortunately, lies in the continued power and persistence of the urban growth regime that continues to work for the benefit of investors, real estate interests, and affluent homeowners, rather than for the benefit of working-class residents.

The explicit subsidy problem has received the most media attention, in part because it is the least complex and offends many Atlantans’ sense of fairness when larger property owners and developers receive subsidies to locate or develop in hot neighborhoods. In November 2019, for example, the Invest Atlanta Board awarded a $700,000 tax break to Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm to locate right next to the Beltline on the east side, one of the hottest parts of the city. About a year later, the development agency awarded the firm another $500,000, this time in a cash grant.9 Even though $1.2 million is effectively a rounding error to a firm the size of Blackrock, which has over $7 trillion under management. All of this came just a few years after Invest Atlanta had given a ten-year tax break with a present value of over $7 million to the office building occupied by Blackrock.10 Another example of excessive tax subsidy occurred around the surging gentrification of the Old Fourth Ward after the development of the East Side Trail of the Beltline. As Chapter 2 details, Ponce City Market, the poster child mixed-used development on the East Side Trail, saw a remarkable rise in market value after its development, yet its property taxes were frozen at recession-era levels. In this case and others, the share of the value that the Beltline TAD was supposed to recapture for affordable housing and other purposes, was effectively gifted back to the property owners instead.

As of 2021, two competing development authorities provided property tax breaks to developers and large firms in the city. One is Invest Atlanta, the city’s development finance arm, and the other was the DAFC. DAFC had an even worse reputation than Invest Atlanta for subsidizing development in hot parts of the city. In 2019, DAFC approved a $3.5 million-dollar subsidy for a hotel to be located in the hot, well-gentrified Old Fourth Ward. The representative from the developer, Portman Holdings, told the DAFC that it aimed to “draw demand out of other districts, out of Downtown we would hope, that we can bring more people to this market.”11 The developer went on record admitting that the DAFC subsidy would help the new hotel compete and draw business away from downtown Atlanta, actually a weaker submarket than the planned location, the Old Fourth Ward.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and representatives of Invest Atlanta. Source: Invest Atlanta Press Release.

In just one meeting in January of 2019, the DAFC approved over $100 million in property tax breaks, including a $57-million-dollar, ten-year abatement to the insurance company MetLife for a nine-acre development in Midtown, perhaps the hottest submarket in the city12. The DAFC board voted 6–2 in favor of the subsidy despite the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools voting against it and arguing that the project—or a similar one—would have proceeded without the subsidy. Most of the remaining subsidy voted on that day was for projects in other hot neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side and Reynoldstown.

Journalist Maggie Lee analyzed all of the property tax subsidies granted to developers by DAFC and Invest Atlanta over sixteen months, from July 29, 2019, to December 8, 2020.13 During this period, the two agencies granted over $239 million in tax abatements, with the ten largest abatements accounting for over $156 million of that amount. of the $239 million went to large real estate projects—typically dominated by offices and commercial space—in hot submarket areas, including Midtown, the Upper West Side, and the east side of the city. This was despite the fact that employers were clamoring to locate in these areas. The presence of two development authorities giving incentives in the same city had resulted in a race-to-the-bottom with both agencies excessively catering to capital, especially the DAFC, which accounts for a large majority of the tax breaks. They both generated fees for their operations from granting subsidies, which increased as the size of the deals did, giving them strong incentives to woo developers to their agency and for developers to shop between the two agencies, seeking the best deal. After being heavily criticized earlier in the 2010s, Invest Atlanta focused more on requiring modest levels of affordability in residential and mixed-use projects, but both agencies continued to finance large commercial developments in hot neighborhoods through the end of the 2010s and into the 2020s. In 2021, critics of the DAFC revealed that the agency’s board members received very generous per-diem fees from the agency, enabled largely from revenues derived from the tax break transactions. This revelation received a good deal of media attention and led to some turnover on the agency’s board.14

Another structural problem that has kept the public from benefitting from the city’s economic growth has been the practice, implemented primarily by Fulton County but effectively sanctioned by the State of Georgia, of under-taxing large commercial properties. In late 2018, the AJC examined 264 sizeable commercial property sales that occurred since 2015 in Fulton County. The paper compared the sale prices to the tax-appraised values that Fulton County had set for the properties.15 It found that 119 properties, forty-fivepercent, sold for more than twice their appraised values. Despite the city’s hot real estate market and public investments in projects like the Beltline generating rising property values for owners of commercial real estate, many, if not most, were not paying close to their fair share of regular property taxes, never mind any notion that the city deserves to capture a larger share of the land value gains created through public investments. In Fulton County’s own review of 175 appraisals of commercial properties, it found that the properties appraised for only $2.8 billion despite selling for about $4.2 billion, for an aggregate appraisal-to-sales ratio of only sixty-seven percent.16 It also found that sixty-onepercent of the 175 properties had their tax levels appealed, leading to billions in decreased appraised values from 2016 to 2018. More than half of the properties had had their appraised values frozen for three years—during a period of quickly rising land values in the city—after the owners had appealed their values in earlier years. Most appeals by these larger property owners involve firms that specialize in appealing property taxes, and these firms tend to be very successful in getting their clients’ appraisals substantially reduced.

Later in 2019, the city of Atlanta hired a firm to conduct its own study of county tax appraisals and found that appraisal levels were much lower for high-valued properties than for low-valued ones. In a sample of 176 properties, the firm found that properties valued at $20 million or more were appraised by the county at only about sixty-eight percent of market value compared to about ninety-eight percent for properties worth less than $250,000.17 A large portion of this difference was due to frequent, successful appeals of tax-appraised values by the large property owners and taking advantage of legal loopholes that reduce the tax-appraised value of the properties. Of course, the owners of high-value properties can easily afford to spend the money on a tax appeal expert if it will save them millions over the long run.

In November 2019, Julian Bene, a retired management consultant who had served on the board of Invest Atlanta for eight years, estimated that the county’s underappraisals of commercial property in the city cost the city, county, and public schools over $300 million per year in the city of Atlanta alone.18 That is the equivalent of over $1,300 per household per year. Even a moderate slice of that could provide a great deal of funding for affordable housing, with the rest providing much-needed resources for schools and other critical local services.

Some efforts were made to remedy the underappraisal problem. A few county commissioners and state legislators proposed that commercial property tax appeals be less of a cakewalk for owners of large properties. They called for the county to require detailed, audited financials from the property owners when they file appeals and that owners pay taxes on the full appraised value, instead of a discounted rate, during the appeals process.19 To do this, however, they needed state legislation, and a bill proposed by Representative David Dreyer of Atlanta died in the Republican-controlled legislature in 2020.

A third fundamental problem with the city’s public finances is one that was partly a response to the rapid decline and then subsequent rise in home values in the city during and after the 2007–2011 foreclosure crisis and the political challenges that they caused. Homeowners enjoy periods when their taxes decline as property values fall but tend to resist mightily when values recover. As home values began to rise around 2012, the Fulton County Assessor failed to keep appraised values current. Therefore, many homeowners did not see assessments rise for several years. Then, in 2017, when the Assessor’s office finally did reset values to reflect the considerable growth in values across the city from 2012 to about 2016, many of the notices sent out to homeowners showed large increases, often well over thirty percent, in appraised values.20 Homeowners received these notices during 2017, a mayoral election year. As it turned out that year, the chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners at the time was a candidate for mayor of Atlanta. In response to the political heat generated by the rising assessed values, the county placed a freeze on property tax assessments at the older, much lower 2016 values. It kicked the can down the road until after the 2017 election. In 2018, the new values shot up again so, after pressure from some homeowners, state legislators in Atlanta, led by a Republican from Buckhead, the wealthiest part of the city, supported a policy change doing two main things. First, it allowed homeowners to roll back their appraised value to as far back as 2016 when the assessor had not updated appraised values from recession-era levels. Second, it limited subsequent growth in the city’s portion of property taxes to less than three percent per year as long as the homeowner stays in the home. This was a significant windfall for owners of expensive homes that had appreciated a good deal during the post-crisis period, especially affluent neighborhoods in Buckhead and northeast- and east-side neighborhoods. Besides the windfall disproportionately benefitting more-affluent homeowners, the policy change shifted the city portion of the tax burden going forward to rental properties. This shift will be mostly passed on to renters, who tend to be less affluent. Moreover, this structure will create significant horizontal inequities between newer and longer-term homeowners and discourage wealthy owners from selling their homes as they age. Although some argued for more progressive approaches to cushion the blow to homeowners from the rapid rise in home values, the rollback-plus-limitation proposal was approved by voters in 2018.

Despite the city’s rapid gentrification and transformation, local government continues to act as if it is still the 1980s, and Atlanta is still a “shrinking city,” losing population and unable to attract middle- and higher-income jobs and residents. The city continues to cater to capital and excessively subsidize and under-tax commercial property. As a result, as land values boomed after 2012, too little of the value was captured by local government, and tax revenues grew far more slowly than they should have. Therefore, the benefits of the city’s economic growth were not adequately shared with the public sector. The bulk of the benefits went to landowners—homeowners and commercial property owners—with little going to the city’s lower-income residents, including many families of color.

Dan Immergluck is Professor of Urban Studies at Georgia State University. His research concerns housing, race, neighborhood change, gentrification, segregation, real estate markets, and community development. Dr. Immergluck is the author of five books, and over 120 scholarly articles, book chapters, and research reports. He has consulted to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the US Department of Justice, philanthropic foundations, and local legal aid and other nonprofits and government agencies. Recently, Dr. Immergluck served on Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ Transition Committee.

Cover Image Attribution: Cover of Dan Immergluck’s upcoming book, Red Hot City. Published by the University of California Press © 2022. Used with permission of the publisher, University of California Press.

Citation: Immergluck, Dan. “Gentrification and the Subsidizing City.” Atlanta Studies. September 28, 2022.

About the Introduction: Alex F. Schwartz is Professor at the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment. Professor Schwartz’ research centers on housing and community development, including public housing and other affordable housing programs, mixed-income housing, fair housing, and community development corporations. While most of his research has focused on housing issues in the United States, he has also studied housing policy in the United Kingdom, and has consulted for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

Professor Schwartz is the author of Housing Policy in the United States: 4th Edition (Routledge, 2021).


  1. Alan Mallach, Divided Cities: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2018[]
  2. Dan Immergluck. Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First Century Atlanta (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2022), 106[]
  3. The first four waves of gentrification occurred from the 1950s through the 2000s. The first two waves were characterized by predominantly private actors, including individual homebuyers and small real estate firms. The third and fourth wave, which began in the 1990s and 2000s, were characterized more by a stronger role of government in leading or catalyzing gentrification. The fifth wave including public sector roles but also included a stronger role for financialized capital. Derek Hyra, Mindy Fullilove, Dominic Moulden, and Katharine Silva, “Contextualizing gentrification chaos: The rise of the fifth wave,” Metropolitan Policy Center at American University, May 6, 2020,[]
  4. The city of Atlanta annexed an area containing Emory University and the offices of the Centers for Disease Control in December 2017. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the annexed area added an estimated 6,376 people to the city’s population. Mark Niesse, “Atlanta Expands Eastward by Completing Annexation of Emory and CDC,” December 4, 2017,—politics/atlanta-expands-eastward-completing-annexation-emory-and-cdc/nnLePc3xFxV989npP7MfNK/. A large majority of this increase should be college students, and the city’s group quarters population increased by just over 4,800 from 2017 to 2018 ACS one-year estimates. The changes in the ACS figures from 2012 to 2019 as described in this section were not materially affected by this small annexation. The median family income (in 2021 dollars) in the city increased from $63,889 to $83,046 from 2012 to 2017, before the annexation, and then stayed basically flat after the annexation at $83,710 in 2018, but then increased to $96,268 in 2019. The annexation accounts for just over fifty percent of the 2017 to 2018 increase in the estimated city population, and just over ten percent of the 63,000 increase from 2012 to 2019. Since students are in group quarters, they are not included in calculations of median family incomes or poverty rates.[]
  5. Ibid.[]
  6. The term, “great inversion” is from Alan Ehrenhalt, The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City (New York: Vintage, 2013).[]
  7. All figures in this paragraph are calculated from the American Community Survey, one-year estimates for 2010 and 2019 for the City of Atlanta. Inflation factors are CPI less shelter figures for the Atlanta CBSA from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis at[]
  8. Quentin Brummet and Davin Reed, “The Effects of Gentrification on the Well-Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Children,” Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, WP19–30, July 2019,–30.pdf?la = en.[]
  9. Maggie Lee, “Atlanta Board OKs Controversial Cash, Tax Breaks for Major Companies,” Saporta Report, November 19, 2020, = BlackRock%2C%20the%20world%27s% 20largest%20asset,business%20retention%20and%20expansion%E2%80%9D%20grant.[]
  10. J. Scott Trubey, “Atlanta Kroger Redevelopment May Get Tax Break,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 19, 2016,[]
  11. Maggie Lee, “Developer Property Tax Breaks in Hot Atlanta Neighborhoods Raising Questions,” Saporta Report, July 29, 2019,[]
  12. Maggie Lee, “Fulton Agency Approves Nearly $100 Million in Property Tax Abatements,” Saporta Report, January 22, 2019, = Fulton%20agency%20approves%20nearly%20%24100%20million%20in%20property%20tax%20abatements,-Maggie%20Lee%20January&text = Fulton%20County%27s%20development%20agency%20on,.%27s%20mega%20Midtown%20development.[]
  13. Maggie Lee, “Commercial Property Tax Discounts in Atlanta,” Saporta Report, December 8, 2020,[]
  14. J. Scott Trubey and Ben Brasch, “Fulton Commissioners Shelve Development Authority Nominee,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 2, 2021,[]
  15. Arielle Kass and J. Scott Trubey, “Fulton Tax Officials Often Undervalue Atlanta Commercial Properties,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 15, 2018,—politics/fulton-tax-officials-often-undervalue-atlanta-commercial-properties/hv9BNyRMoEJLOzCnsxvXcJ/.[]
  16. Office of the County Auditor, Fulton County, “Tax Assessors Office Review of Commercial Properties,” Fulton County, Georgia, July 17, 2019.[]
  17. J. Scott Trubey and Arielle Kass, “Commercial Properties in Atlanta Undervalued for Taxes, Report Says,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 20, 2019,[]
  18. Julian Bene, “Fixing Commercial Under-Assessment is Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars per Year,” unpublished memo, November 11, 2019.[]
  19. Maggie Lee, “Georgia Skyscraper Owners Need to Open Up to Tax Assessors, Say Some Lawmakers,” Saporta Report, March 9, 2020,[]
  20. The chronology in this paragraph is taken largely from Arielle Kass and Vanessa McCray, “Fulton County, Atlanta Tax Proposals Would Bring Relief, Consequences,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 5, 2018,—politics/fulton-county-atlanta-tax-proposals-would-bring-relief-consequences/nGyT3jWiBBqkgyAVS6llnM/.[]