Pittsburgh Yards: Building equitable development in Southwest Atlanta

What might first appear as another co-working space in Atlanta, Pittsburgh Yards ® is really so much more. This community-driven development in Southwest Atlanta is designed to generate more equitable entrepreneurship and job opportunities for residents in the surrounding communities of Neighborhood Planning Unit V(NPU-V), comprised of Adair Park, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, and Summerhill/Capitol Homes.

With one of its two civic sites in Atlanta, the Annie E. Casey Foundation — which serves as primary investor and advisor on the Pittsburgh Yards project — has been working in NPU-V since 2001 to help revitalize the area by creating and preserving affordable housing, promoting entrepreneurship and wealth-building strategies, strengthening local organizations to galvanize community involvement and promoting high-quality early childhood education and child development. After UPS sold the 31-acre Pittsburgh Yards site in 2006, the Casey Foundation and its partners began engaging with community members to reimagine what the land could become and identified several community priorities, which included job creation, business development, sustainability, long-term affordability and public art and culture.

“Community members were primarily concerned about ensuring there were affordable opportunities for resident-led businesses and existing community businesses to benefit from Pittsburgh Yards, either as vendors, tenants or subcontractors,” shared Chantell Glenn, a Program Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and primary contact for Pittsburgh Yards. “Additionally, community members were interested in attracting businesses that could provide living-wage jobs and that would hire people who need second chances.”

As the redevelopment process advanced, residents helped shape the project by participating in monthly engagement meetings, working groups, focus groups and other volunteer opportunities. From the name choice for Pittsburgh Yards and The Nia Building ™, a newly renovated 61,000-square-foot former trucking terminal on the site, to the color palettes, taglines, and logos, to helping identify a property management firm and local artists and crafts people—community residents have had an active hand in shaping all aspects of the development.

The first phase of redevelopment at Pittsburgh Yards was completed earlier this year and includes The Nia Building, which offers 101 leasable coworking spaces, a construction workshop, conference spaces, an amphitheater and five apartment units. In the future, it will house a shared-use kitchen and even a market. The redeveloped site also includes a BeltLine-facing outdoor space for repurposed shipping containers that can become workspaces and storefronts.

Bikers and walkers enjoy the Southside Trail at Pittsburgh Yards. (Photo: The Sintoses)

“The proximity to the BeltLine offers opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to benefit from convenient commuting as well as access to customers from all over Atlanta. There are not any comparable properties near the BeltLine.  Pittsburgh Yards helps to fill the gap in affordable office space for small businesses.”

A diverse group of entrepreneurs has already begun leasing space at Pittsburgh Yards, with sectors that focus on wellness and fitness, financial and tax consultation, realty, youth development, e-commerce and photography, and on September 18, the community gathered to celebrate the completion of the first phase of redevelopment.

Indeed, Pittsburgh Yards showcases what equitable and community-centric development can look like.

“Beyond just a physical redevelopment project, Pittsburgh Yards aims to be an economic catalyst,” Glenn stated.

“Success for this project means creating a wide range of employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Black residents in Atlanta’s Southside — and, ultimately, creating a more equitable distribution of income and wealth.”

 

 

 

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