City adding people, but burbs still booming 

The intown housing boom may receive all the ink, but when it comes to raw numbers, the suburbs are still way ahead. According to figures released by the Atlanta Regional Commission last week, the city added about 2,500 new residents in the past year - twice its average annual increase over the past 10 years but less than 3 percent of the metro area's total population growth.

Gwinnett County alone, for instance, added 10 times the number of people as Atlanta proper.

Part of the reason the numbers don't match the attention is the nature of Atlanta's growth. People moving into the city often tend to be small households, like singles or couples without children, says Bart Lewis, who heads the ARC's research department. And much of the new housing replaces existing homes or torn-down housing projects, so the net gains aren't as dramatic as that of a new subdivision outside Stockbridge.

Even in DeKalb, which added 12,300 new residents, most of the growth is likely in the suburban south rather than in closer-in areas like Decatur or Brookhaven, Lewis says.

Still, Atlanta only added 300 people in 1998 and 900 in 1999, so this year's gains are an improvement. "That's a pretty good year," Lewis says. "But it still can't compete with the suburbs."

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