For nearly two decades, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been a key partner in the redevelopment of a 31-acre former industrial site in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. The project — now known as Pittsburgh Yards® — has evolved since UPS first sold the land to AECF Atlanta Realty, which is a subsidiary of the Casey Foundation, in 2006. The project’s mission, however, has remained the same: grow equitable career, entrepreneurship and wealth-building opportunities for the neighborhood’s Black residents.
From the very start, Casey and the Pittsburgh Yards development team engaged local residents and businesses to help maximize community-based strengths and assets while also creating pathways for residents to participate in key decision-making processes.
Lessons and Recommendations
This report explores the community engagement efforts that Casey undertook throughout the evolution of Pittsburgh Yards. It also shares lessons and recommendations that may be useful to organizations interested in undertaking similar redevelopment efforts.
Casey’s Commitment to Atlanta
The Casey Foundation has a special connection to Atlanta and is invested in helping the city’s families access the opportunities and resources they need to thrive. Since 2001, the Foundation has been working to revitalize Atlanta’s Adair Park, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, Summerhill and Capitol Gateway neighborhoods — known collectively as Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V). This work prioritizes resident leadership, equity and inclusion and includes creating and preserving affordable housing, growing entrepreneurship and wealth-building strategies, strengthening community engagement and promoting child development and early learning success.
Casey viewed community engagement as essential to the success of Pittsburgh Yards
Findings & Stats
Preparing for Launch
Casey established an independent entity to manage the property’s development. This move gave the project some independence from the Foundation and aided in accelerating decision making.
Lessons From the Field
The report shares 14 tips for organizations involved in similar community development efforts. One example? Keep engagement opportunities consistent and easy to access. Strive to keep people engaged and to foster positive community exchanges that lead to more resident participation.
Leveraging Local Talent
By spring 2020, 51% of “soft” cost contracts, such as architectural, engineering and surveys, had gone to local firms owned by women and people of color. An even higher share — 68% — of the “hard” construction contracts went to such firms.
Statements & Quotations
This is different, as it was really a community benefit. It wasn’t just a building or a parking lot. We treated it as a startup that is bringing benefits to the community.
– James Harris of Core Venture Studio
This type of work is challenging and ever-evolving. It’s not going to work out perfectly, but you hope the genuine effort to find mutually beneficial solutions at every juncture resonates with current community members and the generations to come.
– Ryan Akin of Columbia Ventures
Subscribe to our newsletter to get our data, reports and news in your inbox.