Residents Shape Atlanta’s Pittsburgh Yards

Posted March 17, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Developers of Pittsburgh Yards in Atlanta, Georgia

Jason E. Miczek for the Casey Foundation

A new video show­cas­es the crit­i­cal role that com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers have played in shap­ing the future of Pitts­burgh Yards in South­west Atlanta. Once com­plete, the 31-acre site will serve as a com­mer­cial, recre­ation­al and com­mu­ni­ty anchor that offers liv­ing-wage employ­ment as well as long-term career and entre­pre­neur­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents in and around the city’s Neigh­bor­hood Plan­ning Unit V.

The Pitts­burgh Yards project is a true game-chang­er,” says Jean­na Bai­ley, who has oper­at­ed a busi­ness in near­by mid­town Atlanta for over a decade. The whole area is so under­used and underserved.”

Res­i­dents in the area have tak­en the lead in shap­ing var­i­ous aspects of the project through month­ly engage­ment meet­ings, work­ing groups, focus groups and oth­er vol­un­teer opportunities.

For exam­ple, they have:

  • part­nered with a local design firm, HUMINT, to devel­op a col­lec­tion of col­or palettes, taglines and logos for the project’s mar­ket­ing materials;
  • helped iden­ti­fy a prop­er­ty man­age­ment firm and local artists and crafts­peo­ple to exe­cute mul­ti­ple projects;
  • devel­oped a set of cri­te­ria for use of pub­lic green­space at the site; and
  • named sev­er­al build­ing spaces and streets, includ­ing The Nia Build­ing, a 61,000-square-foot small busi­ness and mak­er hub. Nia, in Swahili, means purpose.

Allow­ing peo­ple to be invest­ed — and to wit­ness and to be part­ners in some­thing — builds a community’s con­fi­dence that change can hap­pen,” says James Har­ris, a devel­op­ment part­ner on the project and the cofounder of The Core Ven­ture Stu­dio, a tech­nol­o­gy start­up focused on cul­ti­vat­ing entre­pre­neur­ial real estate envi­ron­ments in Atlanta. 

Build­ing small busi­ness­es and job opportunities

Also cov­ered in the video: How Pitts­burgh Yards — which is sup­port­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — is work­ing to cre­ate jobs for res­i­dents and oppor­tu­ni­ties for small businesses.

For instance, the site is tap­ping a diverse range of work­force part­ners who are com­mit­ted to hir­ing res­i­dents for secure, per­ma­nent and con­struc­tion-relat­ed jobs. The project is also pri­or­i­tiz­ing busi­ness­es owned by women and peo­ple of col­or for sub­con­tract­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Through mid-2019, more than 60% of con­struc­tion con­tracts in Pitts­burgh Yards’s first phase were award­ed to firms owned by peo­ple of color.

Anoth­er exam­ple is The Nia Build­ing, which will offer 101 leasable cowork­ing spaces, con­fer­ence spaces, an amphithe­ater and a shared-use con­struc­tion work­shop and kitchen.

I think it’s a great dance between pro­vid­ing goods and ser­vices direct­ly to the area but also pro­vid­ing jobs,” Bai­ley says of the project.

In late 2019, Invest Atlanta, the city’s eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment author­i­ty, announced the com­ple­tion of its first Com­mu­ni­ty Wealth Build­ing Accel­er­a­tor pro­gram and its grad­u­at­ing class of 21 local small busi­ness own­ers of color.

The pro­gram is one com­po­nent of Accel­er­ate South­side, an ini­tia­tive sup­port­ed by the Casey Foun­da­tion that aims to address chal­lenges fac­ing small busi­ness­es owned by peo­ple of col­or, offer tech­ni­cal assis­tance and sup­port access to afford­able real estate. The ini­tia­tive also plans to pro­vide down pay­ment assis­tance for busi­ness own­ers of col­or who will move their oper­a­tions into con­vert­ed ship­ping con­tain­ers at Pitts­burgh Yards.

I’m excit­ed about Pitts­burgh Yards com­ing up,” says Tama­cia King, a res­i­dent in the area, espe­cial­ly the incu­ba­tors and oppor­tu­ni­ties for new small busi­ness­es to get off the ground.”

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