In February, Microsoft announced it would break ground on a 90-acre campus in Grove Park on Atlanta’s Westside. Back then, WABE heard from the elected president of the Grove Park Neighborhood Association, Brandon Pierre-Thomas.
Since then, Pierre-Thomas has been coordinating talks between the big tech company and concerned legacy residents, many of who expressed fear of displacement in glittering community benefits meetings.
As a liaison, Pierre-Thomas said the relationship between residents and Microsoft doesn’t have to be adversarial. More than 4 months later, he stands by that—and told WABE he gets the impression they are still in the “research phase.”
“I understand that when Microsoft made the decision to come to Grove Park, it essentially started the catalyst of the negative aspects of gentrification,” Pierre-Thomas said.
“But honestly Microsoft, at least from my perspective, has stepped in and tried to assist with the neighborhood functions and be neighborly as much as they could.”
That said, a recent report by Atlanta’s Urban Land Institute finds Grove Park’s housing market has dramatically changed since. Prices have seen double-digit spikes, when Grove Park’s typical median home value is just over $220,000.
After Microsoft broke the news, 95% of homes for sale in the area went under contract.
Sarah Kirsch is the Executive Director of Atlanta’s Urban Land Institute District. She spoke with WABE’s “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress, who started by asking Kirsch how Microsoft’s announcement influenced the housing report’s outcome.