Since the Atlanta Falcons first unveiled their plans for a new $1.4 million billion dollar stadium, nearby neighborhoods have questioned whether they would see any benefit.
On Friday, Mayor Kasim Reed had an answer. Reed and the Atlanta Committee for Progress appointed members of a new nonprofit board to oversee redevelopment in the Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill Neighborhoods.
When the Georgia Dome was built in the 90s, residents who lived nearby were promised their communities would see revitalization. But most of that redevelopment never took place.
Today, the Westside of Atlanta has a lot of vacant and abandoned properties. There’s also significant crime. So when the Falcons deal was announced, residents there wondered if the same thing going to happen again. Mayor Reed says no.
“We said that when we made the decision to invest in the Falcons stadium that we knew that we were going to build the best stadium in the United States of America, but our concern was what would become of Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill, says Reed.”
Reed’s answer is a 9-member nonprofit board called the Westside Future Fund. He says it will jumpstart redevelopment in those communities. The board is made up of corporate leaders, city council members and the president of Spelman College.
Reed says there’s already $30 million from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and Invest Atlanta to start work in the neighborhoods.
“The commitment we’re making today is that we’re going to take this on as a long-term project that will be beyond my tenure as Mayor.”
But there’s worry that investments, especially in real estate, will push current residents out of their communities. Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Young will serve on the new board. He says keeping that from happening is his top priority.
“That is certainly a point of view that I’m going to consistently articulate, and we’re going to find creative ways to mitigate and to address this whole impact of gentrification.”
Mayor Reed says any revitalization plan will go before the community. He’s also promising more police and neighborhood protection.