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Former Atlanta middle school site to transform into $8 million athletic complex

Work is expected to begin in the coming weeks on an $8 million athletic complex for use by Grady High School and Inman Middle School students. 

The new Walden Athletic Complex is located at the former site of Walden Middle School, which closed in 2008 because of declining enrollment. 

The project includes demolition of the three-level school, which Atlanta Public Schools officials said was constructed in 1970 and has deteriorated. Crews are expected to begin razing the roughly 88,000-square-foot school building in the next few weeks, said Alvah Hardy, APS executive director of facilities.

A field house with locker rooms, restrooms, concessions, storage and office space will be built as part of the project, to be complete by the start of next school year.

A natural turf baseball and softball field also will be installed and used for practice and games by Grady teams. 

The site already features a football field, but the design includes a new synthetic turf that can be used for football other sports. 

Grady’s football, soccer, and lacrosse teams will practice at the new Walden complex, where some lacrosse and soccer games also may be played. 

The football team will continue to play games at Grady and Lakewood stadiums, facilities shared by Atlanta high schools. 

Other project amenities include sidewalks, parking, fencing, athletic and security lighting, scoreboards, and concrete pads and bleachers.

The Walden site on Irwin Street in the Old Fourth Ward is roughly two miles south of Grady and Inman schools.

The school board this month unanimously approved a $7.39 million contract with Parrish Construction Group for the athletic complex project. The total cost, including design and other expenses, is budgeted at $8 million, according to school district documents.

APS will pay for the project using money from the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, known as SPLOST, that voters approved in 2016.

The sales tax is estimated to generate roughly $475 million for school construction and renovation, technology purchases, and other items. 

The district plans to spend an additional $9.1 million on other athletic facility upgrades throughout the district. 

That work will result in all APS high schools having a field house and storage facility. Of the $9.1 million, about $1 million will be spent to upgrade Lakewood and Grady stadiums. A timeline for those projects has not been determined. 

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