Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood has seen quite the transformation over the past decade. Not too long ago, who could have imagined that one this place - one of the city’s most notorious areas - would one day end up second on our list of locales with the greatest home value increases? Still, there’s ample opportunity to find your diamond in the rough, if you’re looking for a deal and don’t mind a little (or a lot of) work. This eastside ‘hood is known for its pioneering spirit, so you’ll hardly be alone in your quest for urban nirvana.
Photo by stonehousegolf on Flickr
The land that East Lake encompasses was rural up until the end of the 19th century. It was in the 1890s that ambitious plans were drawn up for an artificial lake surrounded by homes, hotels, schools, and entertainment facilities that would serve a mix of residents and fun-seeking tourists. The lake was built, and a few cottages were placed around it, but the financial downturn of 1896 meant that the touristy aspect of the plan would be the only function to survive. The amusement park was bought out in 1904, and not after that that a golf course was constructed. Voilà - Atlanta’s first country club! The neighborhood as we know it grew up around this emerald centerpiece.
The golf course went through many redesigns and changed hands quite a few times, but it was the construction of a large public housing project in the 1960s that had the greatest effect on East Lake. Named East Lake Meadows, the well intentioned development went into a deep decline that was nothing short of terrifying; at one point it had a crime rate eighteen times the national average. In the mid-1990s East Lake Meadows was torn down and redeveloped by the Cousins Foundation, who also revamped the golfing facilities, and the site is now a mixed income apartment community know as the Villages at East Lake. This positive turnaround was the catalyst for East Lake’s revitalization.
East Lake is located a scant 4.5 miles east of downtown Atlanta and borders Oakhurst, Kirkwood, and unincorporated Dekalb County. Access to I-20 is super easy, and the neighborhood’s served by its own MARTA rail station. As it always has, the East Lake Golf Club is the sun around which the neighborhood revolves. Things are particularly buzzy when the PGA holds its annual Tour Championship here. East Lake never developed a commercial district of its own, but those of Oakhurst and Kirkwood, not to mention East Atlanta Village, give residents nearby options for shopping, dining, and nightlife. One coveted asset the neighborhood is lucky to have: a fairly new Publix grocery store. East Lake Park holds a playground and hosts a farmer market, and there’s also a community YMCA.
Historically, housing in East Lake has been on the modest side, with bungalows, Tudor cottages, and Minimal Traditional homes making up the bulk of the available options. The larger homes tend to be historically inspired newer homes which have seen continued construction even as the housing market’s dragged. If you see chicken coops don’t be alarmed, as East Lake’s been one of the more popular places in the city for urban farming. Prices typically range from below $100,000 to $500,000.