A redevelopment project that transformed an abandoned site in Southwest Atlanta into a space for entrepreneurs is earning recognition from the city. 

“Pittsburgh Yards will remain a transformative, community-led catalyst that will positively impact residents and Atlanta-based entrepreneurs for generations,” Kweku Forstall, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Sites. 

The city of Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission presented the 2023 Community Design Award to Pittsburgh Yards (PY) on June 23.  

(L to R) NPU chair Stephanie Flowers, PY tenant and photographer Ty Pleas, Annie E. Casey Foundation, executive director Kweku Forstall, PY tenant Makeisha Robey and Colliers property managers Walter Slaton and Tameka Phillips.

PY is a 32-acre redevelopment project located on University Avenue. It aims to spark economic equity for residents of Adair Park, Capitol Gateway, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh and Summerhill. 

“It gives me joy knowing the property was activated for something to benefit the communities in Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) and people on the southside and not for another housing development or some type of building for industrial use, or a parking lot,” said chair of NPU-V, Stephanie Flowers. 

“My grandparents lived in the Pittsburgh community, so I visited often, and my family eventually moved here when I was in the fifth grade, so I had seen that property sit vacant for so many years and always wanted something meaningful to go there,” she added. 

Pittsburgh Yard before construction.
The PY site before redevelopment.

In 2017, the Annie E. Casey Foundation purchased the PY site and coordinated the redevelopment, which became a reality through community support and donations.   

The space opened in late-2020 offering co-working memberships, office space and wealth building opportunities to local residents. 

PY aims to be a supportive environment for local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and spur career opportunities. 

Pittsburgh Yards' Community Amphitheater
Pittsburgh Yards’ Community Amphitheater

The site’s Nia building, which stands for “purpose” in the Swahili language, includes art by local artists. The art aims to reflect the history of the building and the local heritage. 

“When you walk into the Nia building at PY, you see and feel the positive affirmations through the small businesses that have the opportunity to thrive and grow. You experience the way history has been infused by way of art and design, making you feel welcomed and wanted,” said Flowers. 

Pittsburgh Yards - The Nia Building
Pittsburgh Yards – The Nia Building.
The Nia buildings south wing co-working area.
The Nia buildings south wing co-working area.

Today, PY has 140 businesses and organizations as members or tenants. 

The 2023 Community Design Award is part of the Awards of Excellence and Community Design Awards. 

The Awards of Excellence honor excellence in urban planning, including new construction and historic preservation. Community Design Awards are chosen through a nomination and voting process. 

“What’s most meaningful about receiving this award is that the nomination was put forth by a community leader who has been a part of the community for most of her life and who has been a part of the project from the very beginning,” said Forstall. “She [Flowers] sees our commitment to staying mission-driven and being a place where residents can work, create, shop, play, inspire and be inspired.”

Flowers has been part of PY’s community planning team since 2017 and nominated the development for the award. She believes developers were able to preserve much of the infrastructure of the initial building. 

“When the Annie E. Casey Foundation purchased the land, they understood how important it was to engage the community in the design of the building and the utilization of the space. They also understood the importance of embracing the culture that exists,” said Flowers. 

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