After twenty years running a small business out of her home, Mary Gay leapt at the chance to rent an office at Pittsburgh Yards.
“I was the first tenant here. I’ve been harassing them before the building got up,” she said. “It was just walls.”
Now that the co-working and office space on the south side of Atlanta is open, she says most of her time is spent networking in the common area, connecting local companies with web designers.
“Now we don’t only have to serve corporations, we can serve the small businesses that need to have a digital presence,” said Gay. “And that’s what I hope this space will do for me: that they know how to access me, access our company and our services.”
That space is the Nia Building (the Swahili word for “purpose”), the first to open at Pittsburgh Yards, which is being developed by a non-profit group, the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It purchased the land in 2006.
“There was a long time where people were wondering, ‘are they gonna do anything with that site,’” said Chantell Glenn, who oversees the project for the foundation.
After two years of construction, the Nia Building opened in late 2020. While the ongoing pandemic put a damper on any big celebrations, those behind the development, are now eager to show it off.
Glenn says the location is meant to provide much-needed space for entrepreneurs in the area, who get priority and a discounted rent. There are 101 offices for lease in the building, about half are taken, she said.
“We are seeing attention for those that are reaching further past I-20 which is still the goal, is to really service this side of town, south of I-20,” she said.
Pittsburgh Yards is also just steps away from the just-completed southside trail of the Beltline.
Concrete floors and exposed beams give the building an industrial feel. But it’s the little touches, as Glenn points out during a tour, that make it feel like the neighborhood.
“[There are] banners hanging of historic figures that once walked the neighborhoods that surround Pittsburgh Yards,” said Glenn. “There’s Herman Russell, prominent real estate developer here in Atlanta.”
Glenn says community input can be seen in every aspect of the property’s design, thanks to expertise from residents like Sohna Harzeez, who says the neighborhood has embraced the development.
“Hiring teams that look like the neighborhood, that already have a relationship with the neighborhood, has been very impactful,” said Harzeez, the owner of The Bubble Pitt, an eco-friendly garment service.
She says Pittsburgh Yards made a practical difference in the neighborhood, too.
“Allowing people to make money where they reside and not have to deal with the 30-minute traffic or the train being down,” said Harzeez. “Just walking around the property, giving people who have families, and even people who don’t have families, a chance to come out and meet and co-mingle.”
An open house and community event at Pittsburgh Yards is set for Saturday afternoon from 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.