City of East Point Looks To Rebrand And Redevelop
It’s a little less than 10 miles south of downtown Atlanta, and only five miles from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It has a population of just over 35,000.
This is the city of East Point and, according to Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham, there’s room for more — more residents, more commercial development and more of a presence in Fulton County.
“Closer Look” host Rose Scott went on a tour of East Point with Holiday Ingraham to find out more. Listen to the three-part series on the city’s efforts to attract redevelopment.
> See more photos from East Point’s redevelopment here.
The city’s redevelopment efforts are kicking off with a brand new $15.8 million government center.
“It says to the community that we’re investing in ourselves,” Holiday Ingraham said. “We want you to invest in us, because we invest in ourselves. You have to lead by example.”
And the government center will be multi-use, both for government itself, but also for the community. In addition to office spaces, the building will be have meeting rooms for the community to use, something the mayor compares to an amphitheater, a water fountain, and perhaps even a space for kids in the back.
This is all to “really make it a community building,” Holiday Ingraham said.
The goal is for the new City Hall to be completed in December.
Beyond the redevelopment of the government center, the city of East Point has acquired site control of just under nine acres of land right across the street from City Hall.
“We can be more involved and determine what actually goes there, with community input,” Holiday Ingraham said. “I would love for this to be a model of equitable revitalization that can happen, an equitable economic development. Meaning we’re building buildings, but it’s more than buildings — we’re building communities.”
In the next installment of the series, the Closer Look team took a ride with Holiday Ingraham for a guided tour through several commercial and residential areas of the city of East Point.
And when it comes to blighted properties, Holiday Ingraham sees an opportunity for redevelopment; she calls it “from blight to bright”.
“I think that’s a more positive way to frame what cities across this nation are experiencing,” she said. “Because if you put the ‘B’ word on it, people look at it like, ‘Ah, that’s kind of negative.’ But this is an opportunity. This is a redevelopment opportunity for someone who’s interested in this type or property, or this type of building, or this type of structure, so we really like to focus on redevelopment.”
But one crucial part of this redevelopment process to build a better community, according to the mayor, is ownership.
“You have to get people who are committed to not just building buildings, but building communities,” she said. “So it’s okay to build a building, it’s okay to make money, but do you also care about the community in that you’re building? Are you trying to make sure that what you build has a positive impact on that community? So I encourage people to buy. Ownership is key.”
But Holiday Ingraham thinks that these blighted buildings and vacant properties won’t last long.
“[People] are like, ‘Mayor, I need about two to three years,’” she said. “In two to three years, it’s probably not going to be here. And whoever buys it next is probably not going to sell it, because they’re going to develop it.”
One surprising fact: the city of East Point does not have a major grocery store.
“We’ve been working feverishly trying to attract a grocery store to our community,” Holiday Ingraham said. “Looked at the likes of, been talking to Aldi, Sprouts, Publix, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s.”
The mayor says that is one thing that residents of East Point have been very vocal about — and that it’s something the city is working hard to attain.
“Everybody wants a grocery store, and we’ve heard that loudly and clearly,” Holiday Ingraham said. “So, we’re really working to try to make that happen.”
For now, the city does have programs to encourage healthy eating and sales of fresh food, including a farmer’s market, local farms, and availability of fresh produce at convenience stores.
“We’re trying to deal with the challenge in a number of different ways, but we’re going to continue to work and continue to leverage relationships to get us a grocery store here in the city of East Point,” she said.
But even with these challenges, Holiday Ingraham says that, if you ask residents, they will speak highly of the city of East Point.
“I think people have these perceptions that don’t really match our community,” she said. “I have full confidence that if you talk to a majority of our residents, they will tell you about how much they love East Point and the great things [that] are happening here.”