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Friday, March 28, 2014

Beltline CEO: State Farmers Market 'one of most meaningful sites' around smart-growth project

Former State Farmers Market in southwest Atlanta, at right, sits alongside proposed site of future bike trail
  • Joeff Davis
  • Former State Farmers Market in southwest Atlanta, at right, sits alongside proposed site of future bike trail
Last week, Invest Atlanta officials agreed to purchase two key pieces of property needed to build the Atlanta Beltline. The first was an approximately four-mile stretch of abandoned rail corridor snaking through southwest Atlanta. For several years, Atlanta Beltline Inc. has had leased the property from the Georgia Department of Transportation. That's where the project's new trail (and one day, transit) will be built.

The other parcel is the roughly 16-acre former site of the State Farmers Market alongside the corridor. Should officials finalize this summer, the city would be in control of a key piece of real estate adjacent to the Beltline in a pocket of southwest Atlanta in dire need of investment.

"This, for us, will unlock one of the most meaningful sites around the Beltline in terms of anchoring the [project] in the south," ABI CEO Paul Morris told CL last week. "And beginning to develop our jobs and housing program in a very robust way on a site that is right near 75/85, on the Beltline, and at a scale that lets us begin looking at promising job opportunities."

Morris says ABI will take the lead on preparing the project's development, starting with examining and addressing "marginal issues" related to environmental contamination, he says. Officials will also have to conduct a historical assessment. That entire process could take three to six months and will help the team determine potential development opportunities, which they'll then add to the existing plans for the area.

The area's master plan, which project leaders and community members crafted over months of public meetings, recommends the property become a park - it should "express the area's industrial heritage, and include artifacts from the site and the surrounding area" - and that some of the property's historic buildings be reused as business incubators.

By fall or winter, Morris says, officials could be "starting public conversation about what the future of the farmers market might look like." Those talks will help project officials decide the right combination of housing, jobs, and parks on the property.

"Once we know what that is, we'll be able to sit down with prospective partners for [building] then we'll convey the property," he says.

After the jump, another vision of what the Murphy Triangle, the industrial area that includes the old State Farmers Market, could become. The image was pulled from a 2012 report on cleaning up brownfields in southwest Atlanta.


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