It goes without saying that 2020 has been anything but predictable. Our Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. team is continuing to work remotely, while still navigating around COVID-19, giving space to the larger systemic issues permeating in society, and challenging our team to take time to really learn from and uphold the commitment to equity and inclusion as demonstrated by two of our greatest, but recently fallen, Civil Rights giants, Congressmen John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Martin.
Typically, we publish a mid-year update. This year, with all that has been happening, we intentionally decided that the right time to update everyone on our 2020 accomplishments felt a bit more appropriate now. Here are just a few of our accomplishments and updates to date:
- ABI welcomed to the team Matt Coffing, Senior Asset Manager, Allegra Hutchinson, Executive Assistant to the CFO and General Counsel, and Jasmine Salazar, Asset Coordinator.
- Staff transitioned to telework on March 13 and have seamlessly continued to advance projects and achieve milestones, implementing more digital features to enhance our team productivity, such as DocuSign.
Design & Construction
- ABI broke ground on the Southside Trail-West, the first segment of the interim Southside Trail to undergo construction, and construction activities are now underway.
- 5 acres of land were purchased for the Boulevard Crossing Park expansion.
- Eastside Trail lighting and security cameras were installed and turned on and safety enhancements were added to the corridor.
- Construction advanced on the Northeast Trail (Central) and the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail, and initial construction began on the Bill Kennedy Way Interim Trail and Streetscape Project and the public space at Holderness and Fenwood Streets on the Westside Trail.
Equity & Inclusion
- As part of a multi-phase partnership with Neighborhood Nexus, ABI launched the Atlanta BeltLine Data Explorer, a public data visualization tool dedicated to mapping growth and change over time in BeltLine neighborhoods.
- The Community Engagement and Planning Team has held 17 public meetings, including 13 virtual meetings that were live streamed on Zoom and Facebook.
- Measures were taken to inform community members of construction updates and other BeltLine-related issues that impacted their neighborhoods.
- ABI also hired community arts strategist Power Haus Creative to target direct engagement in Atlanta’s southeast, westside and southwest BeltLine communities and connect a broader audience to the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program.
- ABI and its housing partners have helped bring 136 affordable housing units to BeltLine neighborhoods with the closing of The Milton in Peoplestown.
- There are currently 873 affordable housing units in the pipeline. ABI continues to explore opportunities for acquisition of property or co-development opportunity to create/preserve more affordable housing.
- MARTA began civil engineering work on the Eastside Streetcar Extension, thanks to funding from More MARTA.
Government Affairs and Grants
- Art on the Atlanta BeltLine received a grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) announced the official selection of Trees Atlanta and ABI as a recipient of a $1 million grant to support the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum and wildlife habitat.
- The Economic Development Team has continued to engage virtually with BeltLine businesses and provide COVID-relief resources on their website, by targeted email, and through one-on-one virtual meetings with businesses.
- They have continued to support and advance an exploratory process among businesses between Murphy Avenue and I-75 to potentially create a new business association.
- The need for more facilitation around workforce development resources for BeltLine businesses and residents has been elevated during this time. The first part of the year has been focused on repositioning our workforce development planning efforts based on the effects of COVID-19 to certain industries and working with ABP on partnership and cohort development that supports both BeltLine businesses and residents.
- The Communications office spearheaded an engaging public information campaign on the trail and online to encourage following CDC recommended public health guidelines, including social distancing and use of masks while on the BeltLine. More than 400 signs were hung around the corridor, including 4 electronic signs that were updated daily, and some of signs were reproduced with permission in places as far as Ontario, Texas, Rhode Island, and Utah.
Arts & Culture
- The Arts & Culture Department hosted a BeltLine Live Stream festival, featuring visual and performing artists from its 2019-2020 Art on the Atlanta BeltLine Exhibition. They also published the 2020-2021 Art on the Atlanta BeltLine Call for Artists.
As you can see, we’ve made incredible strides during this uncertain time, but we still have a tremendous amount of work ahead that will require acceleration, innovation, and collaboration.
We appreciate the community’s support, and we’d love for you to join us on a quick walk down memory lane, to more vibrant times, via our 2019 Annual Report. With the continued uncertainty of the hour, it is good to be reminded of the theme of our 2019 Annual Report, “20 Years of Visionary Thinking.” It is the continued pursuit of dreaming about what is possible, thinking outside the box, and laying the foundation to bring that vision to life that will ultimately bring us closer together and also carry us to the finish line in the next ten years.
We look forward to engaging with you in the future as we bring to life the most transformative, multi-faceted redevelopment project that Atlanta has ever seen.
We’ll see you on the BeltLine (with your mask on PLEASE)!