Edgewood Avenue in Old Fourth Ward has seen a spike in crime in recent year. (File)

Crime on Edgewood Avenue, from illegal street vendors selling alcohol to underage drinkers to unruly crowd gatherings, has spiked in recent years.

The activity has left employees, patrons and residents with concerns for their safety.  Businesses have been suffering due to a downturn in nightlife. 

To address the issues, Old Fourth Ward Business Association is launching a trial safety initiative at Edgewood Avenue and Hillard Street. A “safe tent” staffed by first responders will be located in front of Our Bar, 339 Edgewood Ave., for four weeks.

The safe tent will be open Thursday to Sunday nights.

“It’s not going to solve everything,” said Juan Mendoza, president of the Old Fourth Ward Business Association (O4WBA). “But we’re hoping this will kickstart progress in the area.” 

Illegal street vendors selling alcohol to minors, street racing, large crowd gatherings, gun violence and fighting have captured the attention of the city of Atlanta. 

“The community made enough noise, and there was enough violent crime, that the mayor’s office said, ‘Hey, you know what? We have to focus on this district.’ So that was great news for us, and great timing now that we can combine it with the safe tent,” said Mendoza. 

O4WBA spans Ponce City Market to the Sweet Auburn neighborhood with about 80 participating businesses. The safe tent is being funded by the association with some backing by Atlanta City Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari. 

The tent will include a hydration station, overdose prevention, rideshare visibility and a cell phone charging area. The vicinity will be linked to Connect Atlanta, a community engagement platform that gives APD access to real-time video.  

Prior methods of reducing crime, like patrolling the area by car or shutting down the street to vehicles, were insufficient. The city of Atlanta is now using coding enforcement and zoning ordinances to prompt property owners of vacant lots to take action, said Mendoza. 

“We’re brainstorming a lot of ways to make the area safer as it becomes more dense,” said Mendoza. 

By sourcing electricity and wifi from Our Bar, the safety effort will save $2,800 during its trial run. O4WBA is planning to measure success by the number of car break-ins, violent and domestic crimes, drug overdoses and gun-related incidents. 

O4WBA’s message: “Let’s change the narrative of Edgewood as a dangerous, crime-ridden and abandoned nightlife scene. Instead, it should be prioritized and celebrated as a creative and lively corridor connecting the BeltLine to the heart of Georgia State and downtown Atlanta.”

Logan C. Ritchie writes features and covers Brookhaven for Rough Draft Atlanta.