Atlanta BeltLine Inc. has purchased nearly 13.7 acres along the Southside Trail to make way for new jobs as well as affordable housing and commercial opportunities, according to officials.
ABI paid $13.3 million for the property at 356 University Ave. The site is adjacent to Pittsburgh Yards, a 32-acre adaptive-reuse development that aims to spark economic equity for residents of Adair Park, Capitol Gateway, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and Summerhill.
The land was purchased from AECF Atlanta Realty LLC, a subsidiary of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which manages Pittsburgh Yards, and was financed through a loan from SouthState Bank, according to an ABI news release.
“This is a catalytic opportunity to continue guiding equitable, inclusive and sustainable development in southwest Atlanta, which has many historically disinvested neighborhoods,” said ABI President and CEO Clyde Higgs in the release.
“Purchasing this parcel is another step that the Atlanta BeltLine is taking in our focus on righting historic wrongs that have left residents and communities behind in the face of city-wide growth,” Higgs said.
Tomi Hiers, president of AECF Atlanta Realty LLC, said selling the land to the Atlanta BeltLine would bring resources and expertise to develop the parcel on the west side of Pittsburgh Yards more quickly and accelerate amenities that are important to residents.
“We are excited about our collective vision for a space where community is at the center and can reap the benefits and contribute to the economic growth along the Atlanta BeltLine,” Hiers said in the release.
“This partnership also will allow us to focus on maximizing the potential of Pittsburgh Yards as a hub for local entrepreneurs and a resource for the community to work, create, shop and play,” Hiers said.
Pittsburgh Yards was designed to be a commercial anchor and has succeeded in producing living-wage jobs that generate positive change for residents in the surrounding communities, according to the news release.
The BeltLine’s newly acquired land sits next to The Nia Building, a 61,000-square-foot former trucking terminal at Pittsburgh Yards fitted with 101 leasable workspaces, conference spaces, an amphitheater, apartment units, and a shared kitchen and market. The Pittsburgh Yards complex also includes a dedicated community green known as the James Bridges Field.
The BeltLine has tripled its land holdings around the 22-mile loop over the past three years. The land parcel acquired by the BeltLine is situated west of the Downtown Connector, adjacent to the Atlanta BeltLine’s completed Southside Trail – Segment 1. The land is currently vacant, with no structures on the site.
“With development planning underway for nearby Murphy Crossing, a BeltLine-owned site, momentum continues to build south of I-20 and is part of an intentional transformation and investment in long-overlooked communities,” the ABI news release said.
Currently, there are approximately 20 different development projects within approximately a mile of Murphy Crossing.
In south and west Atlanta, the BeltLine is building major multi-use trail segments with more going into construction in the next several months. By the end of 2024, ABI predicts 80% of the trail loop will be complete or under construction and providing alternative transportation options connecting into this site.
“What excites me about this opportunity is knowing that the 14 acres was purchased by an organization which aligns with the mission of the Annie E. Casey Foundation,” said Stephanie Flowers, NPU-V Chair and longtime Pittsburgh resident and community leader, in the release.
“That makes me feel confident that what is going to be developed on this land will continue to increase and enhance opportunity currently happening at Pittsburgh Yards around economic opportunity, entrepreneurship, and building community,” Flowers said.
The BeltLine will conduct a community engagement process to determine best uses for the site and to continue area momentum for intentional development on the city’s Southside that creates jobs and business opportunities for local residents and businesses, according to the news release.
The Casey Foundation will be a part of a stakeholder advisory committee along with residents of adjacent communities. After incorporating the vision of adjacent residents and local businesses into the plans, the BeltLine will issue a request for proposals to redevelop the site. The timeline for these meetings will be published on beltline.org.