35-Unit Affordable Housing Complex Slated for The Bluff

On Friday, the Westside Future Fund announced their plans for a dilapidated, vacant 35 unit apartment complex in English Avenue.

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395 James P. Brawley Dr. NW was acquired by the Westside Future Fund and will undergo a $2 million  renovation. It will provide affordable housing to legacy residents in the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods. “We want to make sure that Atlanta continues to be a place that’s affordable to all, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a press conference in front of the complex.

Atlanta City Councilman at Large, Michael Julian Bond said, “there’s no better location, no better space to live here right now on the Westside.”

James P. Brawley Dr. is ground zero of revitalization; Last year, 6 new homes were constructed on Brawley and made available to police officers. Last month, Chick-fil-A opened a new restaurant just a stone’s throw from the new Walmart on MLK and Brawley Dr.

It was just a few years ago that Bill Torpy published an article in the AJC wherein he opined, that “If I belonged to the family of Dr. James P. Brawley, I’d ask the city of Atlanta to remove his name from the stretch of urban rot that bears it.”

Now it appears that the stretch is an example of how The Bluff is bouncing back one parcel at a time.

Rev. Howard Beckham, president of the English Avenue Neighborhood Association and a long-time resident, said he is seeing improvements in the community.

In addition to the 35 units of affordable housing underway, the Westside Future Fund has acquired another 15 single-family homes, which it intends to make available to community residents.

Councilmember Bond said this has been a longtime coming. “It is really great to see the positive transformation taking place in this community … one family at a time, one household at a time, and one community at a time.”




Bulldozers, Hammers, and Hoes on Deck in English Ave

Tis the season to be jolly if you’re on the Westside. English Avenue, a neighborhood located just northwest of downtown Atlanta, has seen decades of neglect. However, two projects, within paces of each other along James P. Brawley Dr. NW, may be signals of a community on the come-up.

At 484 and 469 James P. Brawley Dr. NW, Quest Community Development Organization is building  affordable new construction single family homes. The move brings more homeowner occupied dwellings to a community with nearly 90% renters.


At the southern edge of this block, at the intersection of Jett St NW, is another planned  project, a community organic farm. Your Community Organic Garden is looking for volunteers and sponsors to help get garden hoes on deck.


Just across the street, bulldozers are clearing a previously blighted parcel for construction of new affordable housing.


2018 looks promising for the area. Quest Development has been actively improving and adding to the quality housing stock in Vine City English Avenue.  Blocks away, over on Cameron Alexander Boulevard, QCDO rehabbed an old 8-plex and created Quest Enclave, eight garden style apartments for previously homeless veterans.

QCDO’s $30 million plan, Quest West 2020, is to transform the intersection of Lowery and Boone into an intersection opportunity to “live-work-play-serve.”


Quest Nonprofit Center for Change & Quest West Commons


Atlanta City Council Adopts Historic Westside Masterplan

The City of Atlanta  has made yet another landmark move in support of mixed-income growth and community retention on Atlanta’s Historic Westside.

Last week, the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved the Westside Land Use Framework Plan – a design and implementation strategy for the equitable revitalization of the historic Westside neighborhoods of English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Booker T. Washington and Just Us. It was sponsored by the Westside Future Fund, City of Atlanta and Chick-fil-A Foundation.


Recently built Historic Westside Village townhomes sit just behind the new Vine City Chick-fil-a and MLK Walmart.

The plan, which will help guide future developments, was introduced by District 3 and 4 Councilmembers Ivory Young and Cleta Winslow and championed by fellow councilmember and Westside native Michael Julian Bond (Post 1 At-Large).

“As a longtime Westside resident and steward of the community, I am encouraged by the support we received from our City’s leadership to adopt this very important plan, which will serve a catalyst for the revitalization of my entire City Council district,” said Councilmember Young whose district-wide Westside Revive plan includes the Land Use Framework Plan.

“The history, culture and people that exist in these neighborhoods cannot afford to be lost or compromised. This plan will allow us to oversee positive change and guide these neighborhoods to become ‘whole’ and vibrant again.”

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Westside Future Fund commissioned the plan in 2015 – less than a year after its founding – as one of its first orders of business. Plan principles include:

• Grounding in best practice and existing community knowledge: Renowned urbanist Dhiru Thadani and Atlanta-based firm APD Urban Planning and Management were hired to lead the project, which coupled best-practice research of other successful and similar community revitalization projects with extensive consideration of how to link past planning efforts.

The recommendations built upon the 18 previous plans and studies that were completed in the past 15 years, including the City’s most recent Atlanta City Design Project, created by City of Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane and Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel.


  • Robust Community Engagement Process: Community engagement meetings with all neighborhoods were conducted over the course of a year and a half, beginning spring 2016, with each neighborhood providing input on a unique vision statement and goals.More than 1,000 stakeholders participated in the process, including all six neighborhood associations and the Atlanta University Center institutions (Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morris Brown and Morehouse School of Medicine).
  • Focused Vision for Resident Retention, Neighborhood Character, Infrastructure and Parks and Open Space.


The adoption of the Framework Plan comes just weeks after Council’s unanimous approval of the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Legislation, which supports the creation of quality, affordable mixed-income housing – a key component of the plan.

The new zoning law requires new rental housing developments in BeltLine communities, such as the Historic Westside District, to set aside  at least ten percent of units for affordable “workforce housing” which is being defined as 60 percent Area Median Income (AMI)* or below OR 15 percent of its total units for households at 80 percent AMI or below.

“We are extremely grateful for the leadership of Mayor Kasim Reed, Commissioner Tim Keane and his team and Atlanta City Council to ensure that all residents — no matter their background or socioeconomic status — have an opportunity to be part of the tremendous growth and revitalization that’s happening in our city,” said John Ahmann, executive director of the Westside Future Fund.

“These two actions are critical and important first steps, but only the beginning. We must continue to be intentional about creating opportunities for individuals who still find themselves below the current threshold,” Ahmann added. “As the birthplace of Civil Rights leaders and the adult home of Dr. King, we have great responsibility to carry on their legacy. Westside Future Fund is dedicated to fostering a community they would still be proud to call home. One that is compassionate, inclusive and economically just.”

Of the 6,300 current historic Westside households, 90% are renters. Of that number, more than 70% fall below the qualifying AMI, earning on average less than $15,000 annually and often occupying notoriously sub-standard housing.


Since the establishment of the Westside Future Fund in Dec. 2014 by Mayor Reed and the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the organization has focused on ensuring the historic Westside develops as a mixed-income community, not displacing current residents, while also creating housing options for future residents of all income levels, especially as planned growth and development across the city foreshadow a higher demand for intown real estate.

According to Atlanta City Design Project, the City’s population is expected to grow to 1.2 million people by 2050, nearly triple the city’s current size.

  • In 2016, Westside Future Fund led the development of a community retention plan, created to specifically address Westside residents’ (homeowners and renters) concerns about displacement and gentrification.The plan is a complement to the Land Use Framework Plan, outlining recommendations and strategies to address the concerns expressed during the community engagement period. Partners in the collaboration were City of Atlanta’s Department of Planning and Community Development, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta Housing Authority, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

    This collaborative of public-private entities, along with organizations within the nonprofit sector, are considered potential implementation partners of the strategy as well.

  • Back in April, Westside Future Fund, in partnership with Mayor Reed and the City of Atlanta, announced one of the first initiatives of the strategy – the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund, which will pay property tax increases for the next 20 years for current, qualifying homeowners.For renters, however, the solution has been more complex.

    As part of its strategy for providing better quality of life for renters, Westside Future Fund lobbied for the Westside’s four historic neighborhoods to be included in the new legislation, but acknowledges the long road ahead toward guaranteeing high quality, affordable options for all.

    “To be successful at ensuring legacy residents are not displaced and can benefit from the current and future development, it will take collaboration across the public, private and nonprofit sectors,” said Ahmann. “Leveraging philanthropy to bridge this disparity is our greatest opportunity, and we’ll be calling upon the Atlanta community to help us address this need.”

    The inclusionary zoning policy will go into effect on all developments seeking a permit 60 days from the Nov. 7 City Council meeting date.

    The Land Use Framework Plan will now be incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Development Plan, ensuring its recommendations are factored into future planning decisions.

$50 Million Housing/ Retail/ Healthcare Development headed to the AUC

For years, AUC students have made the long desolate walk down Westview Drive/Lee Street between the AUC and the West End Commercial Corridor to get hangers and the new Jordans in Mall West End or hop on the Marta at West End station and head to Lenox.  They used to tell students not to walk alone. Well, that walk is about to become a lot more scenic.

Morehouse School of Medicine just announced a more than $50 million expansion adjacent to its southwest Atlanta campus in the Atlanta University Center (AUC.)

The new development on Lee Street will be built on land that was formerly occupied by the long gone, Harris Homes housing projects. It will include a 5-story building with 200 market rate housing units, an ambulatory health-care center, a parking garage, and retail space.  It will be completed by 2020.

MSM Lee Campus

Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of MSM, said the Lee Street Campus will solidify the school’s role in revitalizing Atlanta’s Westside. “We’re becoming a part of what we like to describe as ‘the Westside story,’” Rice said. “Our ideas have been independent of what is happening with the [Mercedes-Benz Stadium], but this is what we feel we can contribute to the development of the Westside.”

Real estate developer Carter USA won the bidding process to develop the first phase of the project, which MSM is calling the Lee Street Campus. The first phase includes the construction of a three-story commercial building that will house a student health and wellness clinic as well as an ambulatory care center that will be open to the public. Morehouse School of Medicine will partner with a national fitness center chain to develop a 24-hour center on the building’s top floor.

The new housing will make life easier for Morehouse’s medical students, who spend the majority of their first two years on campus. “We looked at this parcel of land we owned and thought the most important thing we could do for our students was allow them to have more affordable housing close to the school,” Rice said.

Carter Developments will also build a five-story building with approximately 200 market-rate units, most of which will be one or two bedrooms. “We’ve looked at what our students are typically paying, but we also want it to be apartments anyone would want to live in — high quality with smart technology,” Rice said.

The units are needed to accommodate MSM’s growing student population, which surpassed 520 this year, including 100 incoming medical students. When Rice began her presidency in 2011, the school had only 56 incoming medical students.

Plans also call for a 347-space parking deck and retail space for restaurants and other amenities.

The development will rise on vacant land MSM acquired during a 2006 land swap between the Atlanta Housing Authority and College Partners Inc., a collaboration between MSM, Spelman College and Morehouse College. The land swap included about 11 acres of the former Harris Homes public housing community, as well as various parcels of private land that added up to about 20 acres.

MSM acquired 7.3 acres during the swap, and 2.9 acres of the parcel will be developed during the first phase. The school is still weighing its options for the remainder of the property, though Rice predicts it will need to add more market-rate housing to keep pace with the growing student body size.

The school won’t own the mixed-use development. Instead, it will enter into a 99-year ground lease with Carter for the first phase, though the school potentially could become an equity partner in the project.

Read More…


Carter Developments President & CEO Scott Taylor and Morehouse School of Medicine President  
Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice sign $50 million MSM expansion deal.                                                Photo Credit: Byron E. Small/ Morehouse School of Medicine

Multi-Million Dollar Mixed-Use Development Headed to Bankhead

Development of the Proctor Creek Greenway has been an on-going discussion for nearly a decade, but it has taken a major step forward with the recent announcement of a new 28 acre mixed-use development project, located on the industrial land right next to the Bankhead MARTA Station.

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The Emerald Corridor Foundation, founded in 2014 by a group of landscape architects and landowners, inspired by the beauty of the area surrounding Proctor Creek, the neighborhoods’ remarkable transit connectivity, and the opportunity for revitalization,  is one of the organizations behind a the multi-million dollar project.

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The land has been vacant for about 20 years, according to a member of the ECF’s board.

The site, along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, would have a hotel, residences and commercial space, but the core of the development will be the Proctor Creek Greenway that runs through it. The greenway will be a seven mile system of trails totaling 400 acres of public green space that will cover a site near Proctor Creek and connect the Atlanta Beltline to the Chattahoochee River.

Mark Teixeira, a former Atlanta Braves player and major backer of this project, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that “We are very high on density and affordable housing.

The project will require rezoning; Atlanta City Council final approval is expected before Christmas.

Demolition of a Portion of Morris Brown’s Campus Underway for New $20 Million YMCA in Vine City

Demolition is underway in the northwestern most section of the historic Morris Brown College campus. The former Jordan Hall, which sits at the corner of MLK Drive and Maple St and was once home to the College’s gymnasium, is being transformed into the new $20 million home of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.



Last year, the YMCA purchased the property from the City of Atlanta. Morris Brown sold off much of its assets to satisfy a multi-million dollar debt and Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The school has since emerged from that phase and is on the path to recovery.


Once completed, the building will also house the Leadership and Learning Center which will offer early learning opportunities to about 70 Vine City youth.

The building is being only partially demolished after residents, community leaders, and curators of black culture pushed for the preservation of the historic structure. It began as the Edmund Asa Ware Elementary School, one of the first schools in the city to educate African-American students.

The YMCA hopes to move into its new building by the summer of 2018.

Loft office, Artist studios, Coffee shop, & Affordable Housing Slated for Adair Park

Adair Park is the latest Downtown West neighborhood to receive some much needed economic development and housing. After years of fighting with Atlanta Public Schools over control of an abandoned schoolhouse in Adair Park, the century old building will be renovated and become The Academy Lofts.


The Academy Lofts are slated for completion in early 2019.

According to Curbed Atlanta, in addition to 5,000 square feet of loft offices for small businesses, artist studios and a 1,300-square-foot coffee shop, the historic redevelopment project will create 35 “micro-units” of affordable “art-force” housing (reserved for artists)—and is utilizing a $1.5-million grant from Invest Atlanta as part of the Housing Opportunity Bond Program—in order to maintain affordability into the future. Funding will also come through historic tax credits.


Slated for completion in early 2019, the project is using local developers, Stryant Investments and Building Insights who have partnered with arts nonprofit The Creatives Project to bring new life to the school, which has been abandoned for nearly 45 years. The auditorium will be converted into an art gallery and community events space.

Neda Abghari, executive director of the Creatives Project, said the concept is the first of its kind in the City of Atlanta. Read more and see renderings …

Why Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Crisis Wont Get Fixed by Mary Norwood

Mary-Norwood-croppedMary Norwood lives in Buckhead and describes herself as “independent” in a city where much of the permanent public affordable housing was torn down and not replaced. She is not the best candidate to address the city’s affordable housing crisis. She’s out of touch, insensitive, and lacks the experience (Norwood had not even ever chaired a city council committee until he most recent term in office) to lead a city as large and complex and Atlanta.

On Gentrification

Mary Norwood just won’t stay out of the West End. Is she there to court black voters? Perhaps she is there to introduce herself to the many new white residents of this historically African American stronghold community. Or both. Either way, Norwood has to be aware of the rapid gentrification of Southwest and Northwest Atlanta, and the housing affordability crisis which has left many former  black “intown” residents displaced and priced out of their beloved communities. Perhaps that’s why Ms. Norwood sat down to discuss the issue of gentrification with the Buckhead Coalition. We all know how familiar the Buckhead community is with the issues going on on the Westside (side eye).

On Affordable Housing…

During a Mayoral Candidate Survey on Affordable Housing taken in July 2017, candidates were asked to rank issues in importance to Atlanta’s future. Only Ceasar Mitchen and Sen. Vincent Fort ranked housing affordability as the most important issue.  Mary Norwood gave it a 6. Mary Norwood  In fact, Ceasar Mitchell is the only candidate to make mitigating displacement and preserving existing affordable housing his top and immediate priority.

On Homelessness

Atlanta’s homeless are not criminals. Not having a place to live is not a crime; its a tragedy.  Last month, Ms. Norwood attended a candidate forum sponsored by the City for All Housing Coalition and the Transformation Alliance. When asked about what to do next in addressing homelessness and ensuring affordable housing, her response was:

“One of the problems with supportive housing is, people say, ‘I don’t want that in my neighborhood,” Norwood said.  “So it needs to come with security; it needs to be a well-run facility.  Everyone knows what being a good neighbor means. Being a good neighbor is not the kind of neighbor that Peachtree-Pine has been all these years. Lots of great intentions there, but it just hasn’t been a good neighbor.  I think we all understand what that means.”

So instead of talking about real solutions, funding, and creating a division of homeless services, she complained about the unsightliness and undesirability of homeless shelters and how they should be run more like jails or halfway houses????

At an Atlanta mayoral forum sponsored by V103 earlier this month, Norwood  and other candidates were asked about their plans to increase affordable housing in the city. While Mitchell  said he’d “create at least 20,000 affordable housing units in this city,” Ms. Norwood, who drives a Lexus sedan and lives in the poshest section of the city, skated around the issue.

A candidate who does not have clear answers and solutions to this city’s biggest problems is not the person to fix said issues. She has struggled to denounce Trump, paused on answering questions about racial profiling, and is way off on how best to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

AtlDowntownWest endorses current City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. He has lived in Southwest Atlanta (West End) for over 20 years, is passionate and informed about fixing this city’s biggest and growing problem –housing.

Several New Affordable Homes Headed for English Avenue

After the successful construction of 5 affordable homes along James P. Brawley Dr. NW in Vine City earlier this year (Phase I), the Atlanta Police Foundation has embarked on an even more ambitious project in neighboring English Avenue. In Phase II, a total of 20 newly constructed homes are planned for police officers and long-time neighborhood residents.


Blighted apartments on Griffin Street have been demolished for new construction.

Demolition has already been completed of previously dilapidated homes and work is underway on Griffin Street to build several new homes for police officers and legacy residents, according to the Atlanta Police Foundation. The initiative, known as Secure Neighborhoods, is supported by the City of Atlanta, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, and Westside Future Fund and is targeted towards three specific neighborhoods: Vine City, English Avenue, and Pittsburgh.

14657314_1843128382583026_3256136458837894640_nIn addition to removing blight and adding new residents to the Historic Westside communities, the Secure Neighborhoods programs seeks to increase police visibility, build connections between police and neighbors, and provide housing options for officers.  And its already seeing success; the Westside has seen a significant reduction in crime.

The organization is based on a public-private partnership model that has worked to secure and leverage private resources to fund high priority projects designed to enhance the City of Atlanta’s ability to fight and prevent crime. As a result of the work of the APF, since 2003 there has been an increase in the number of police officers on the streets and an increase in the engagement of Atlanta’s business community and neighborhood residents in fighting crime. Additionally, the City has experienced a 58 percent reduction in the violent crime rate and a 41 percent reduction in crimes overall.


Another 10 homes are expected to be built as part of phase III in 2018. By 2020, the project will have constricted 35 new homes in downtown west.



Another New Park to Be Built in Vine City

It is being reported that a 4 acre park, Boone Park West,  will be built in Vine City.  This is the second park to be announced this year.  This past spring construction began on the Rodney Cook Sr. Park.

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Boone Park West sit at the intersection of Oliver St. NW and Joseph E Boone Blvd. 

Construction of Boone Park West  will include the conversion of  a collection of abandoned and neglected parcels into a “positive, vibrant, and transformative public space” that engages the community in green infrastructure solutions, increases public access to recreational opportunities, provides jobs and training for residents, improves environmental quality, and reduces negative impacts of stormwater runoff, according to a report by Park Pride.

Curbed Atlanta and Saratoga Report both reported that the plans to create Boone Park West in the Proctor Creek Watershed. The plans show the proposed site will carve out space for the future home of the Atlanta Urban Ecology Resource Center (AUERC).

The new park is just one of many within the watershed that could help address issues of flooding in neighborhoods like English Avenue and Vine City. One of the primary purposes of Boone Park West is to control localized flooding around the park site and provide capacity relief for the sewer system around this westward edge of Downtown  Atlanta.

According to Park Pride officials, the park will be the third on the westside (after Vine City Park and Lindsay Street Park) built as part of the Proctor Creek North Avenue Vision for Green Infrastructure study completed in 2010.

Said officials in a release: “A key component of Boone Park West will be a green infrastructure amenity designed to capture, clean, and infiltrate at least 37,500 cubic feet of stormwater runoff from the surrounding streets, mitigating the recurrent flooding that has historically plagued these neighborhoods.”