Pullman Yard

The Atlanta Urban Design Commission approved a resolution nominating the century-old Pratt-Pullman Yard in Kirkwood as a landmark district.

The commission, which is charged with preserving the city’s physical heritage through the nomination of buildings/sites of historical and architectural significance, held its public hearing on the Pratt-Pullman Yard nomination on July 26 at Atlanta City Hall. An initial hearing took place July 12, however, the Commission’s decision was deferred to July 26 to allow the new property owners and city planners to determine the historical importance of each of the brick masonry buildings located on the 25.88-acre site.

The Urban Design Commission’s decision now goes to the Zoning Review Board for a public hearing and land-use review before moving to the Zoning Committee for its recommendation. The Atlanta City Council could make the final designation action as early as late November.

“The Pratt-Pullman Yard is not only unique in its architectural character but it reflects an important chapter in the history of our city. The buildings are emblematic of a time when railroads played a significant role in our city’s growth,” said District 5 City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong. “It is for these reasons that we want to preserve as many of the existing buildings as possible.”

A sketch of Atomic Entertainment’s plan for Pullman Yard (Courtesy Curbed Atlanta)

The site was purchased this year for $8 million by Atomic Entertainment, who plans to build a self-inclusive entertainment district with a movie studio, production and post-production offices, digital incubator, music and sound recording facilities, food and beverage concepts and boutique hotel onsite. Construction will begin in the next 12 months, said Atomic Entertainment CEO Adam Rosenfelt.

“By creating a self-inclusive entertainment district, we will be supporting the significant creative and cultural economies this city has to offer,” Rosenfelt said. “Our goal is to create a dynamic community that establishes a new paradigm for traditional mixed-use development, one which, will appeal to both local Atlantans and visitors alike.”

The former rail yard located at 225 Rogers Street in Kirkwood is associated with the broad industrial history that was the economic backbone of the neighborhood from the early 1900s through the mid-1950s.

A historic image of the Pullman Yard in its heyday.

In 1904, the site was built by the Pratt Engineering and Machine Company as a production facility for chemical refining machinery to develop sulfuric acid for use in agricultural fertilizers. The Pratt Engineering Company plant was also a large producer of carbonic gas, which was used to carbonate soda fountain soft drinks. In 1917 the property also briefly served as munitions manufacturing facility during World War I.

In 1926, Chicago-based Pullman Company purchased the Pratt Engineering property and poured over $1million in renovations to the site to convert it for use as the southeastern repair shop for the company’s popular railroad sleeper cars. The renovations included the addition of two, distinctive, saw-tooth-roofed buildings and construction of a railroad car transfer table that allowed Pullman workers to move train cars laterally down the production line, saving space and time on repairs and allowing work to occur on 14 cars at a time. Following the decline in railroad travel after World War II, the Pullman Company closed operations at the Pratt-Pullman site in 1954.

More recently, the property has served as a location for films like “The Hunger Games.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.