An Atlanta City Council committee delayed action Tuesday, July 25, on an ordinance setting aside surplus land as affordable housing to get more information on how many city-owned properties might be available.
While the city owns 1,419 parcels that have been deemed surplus, 1,188 are under the purview of the city Public Works, Parks and Recreation or Watershed Management agencies, Katrina Taylor Parks, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Kasim Reed, told the council's Community Development & Human Services Committee.
"Those departments may have some future need associated with these parcels," she said.
Parks asked the committee to postpone a decision on the ordinance to give the city's staff time to perform a "deep dive" analysis to find out how many city-owned properties might be available for use as affordable housing and where those parcels are located.
"We need to honestly know what we have," she said.
Councilman Michael Julian Bond, the ordinance's chief sponsor, asked Parks to expedite the administration's research because Atlanta faces an affordable housing crisis.
"Most of our employees don't live in the city because they can't afford to," Bond said. "We want people who work for the city to live in the city. But that doesn't happen by happenstance. It takes purposeful effort."
Another part of the debate involves where the affordable houses would be built. The surplus sites are said to be located in all council districts. But developers have resisted taking the city’s incentives to build even 20 percent affordability in their housing projects, said Councilmember Cleta Winslow. The result is that the majority of affordable housing projects are located south of I-20.
“I could take some people to NPU-S, where there are not abandoned homes, there are abandoned blocks,” Winslow said. “When you talk about affordable housing, I’ve got affordable housing. I’ve some some abandoned blocks.”
*Portions courtesy of Atlanta Business Chronicle and Saportareport.com
A notice of intent has been issued to nominate the Pratt-Pullman Yard as a landmark site due to its historic, cultural and architectural significance. This is a major move that could preserve the century-old fixture in Kirkwood.
Atlanta Urban Design Commissioner Executive Director Doug Young initiated the nomination and designation process on June 20 for the property, located at 225 Rogers Street, N.E.
A public hearing on the designation went before the Atlanta Urban Design Commission Wednesday, July 12. The commission found the site meets or exceeds specified criteria for designation as a "Landmark District."
The measure will now go through the city’s regular procedure for all zoning papers. That process includes another public hearing before the Zoning Review Board. It must also receive a recommendation from the Zoning Committee and final designation action from the Atlanta City Council.
With the issuance of the notice of intent, an “interim development control period, “ takes effect, meaning no alterations, renovations, additions, new construction, demolition or site work of any kind is permitted on the property for 180 days unless approved by the Office of Design’s Historic Preservation staff.
For years, the site faced an uncertain future, having passed through several ownerships and uses.
“This is a giant leap forward in our quest to preserve such a unique piece of our city’s history,” said District 5 City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong, who represents this historic Kirkwood neighborhood. “I am pleased that a process is underway to allow for the preservation of the buildings at the Pratt-Pullman Yard. Some of the buildings on this property are more than 100 years old and today serve as a testament to Atlanta’s railroading history and to contributions made by African-American workers.”
In 1904, the site began as the home of Pratt Engineering and Machine Company, a parts manufacturer for sugar and fertilizer processing plants. In 1917, the property served as a plant which manufactured munitions used by soldiers in World War I.
In 1922, Chicago-based Pullman Company purchased the property and turned it into a rail car repair station. At the time, the site was a major employer in Atlanta. In a segregated South, Pullman’s Atlanta shop manager began recruiting black workers from local porters and car cleaners. The company became one of the largest employers of African-Americans in the country.
The Pratt-Pullman Yard is comprised of 100,000 square feet of historic buildings and sits on 25.88 acres.
*Contains information from www.atlantaga.gov