UPDATE: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday helped break ground on a manufacturing facility for the owners of Monday Night Brewing, an Atlanta craft brewing operation opening in Atlanta’s West End.
“After five successful years in northwest Atlanta, Monday Night Brewing was looking to expand in a location that had the kind of character, square footage and high ceilings that these old brick warehouses offer,” Reed said of the company’s facility at 933 Lee Street in southwest Atlanta.
“In choosing this site, they are capitalizing on that availability. But they are also seizing on the peak appeal of southwest Atlanta, which all us will soon discover,” he said.
Operators of the craft brewery said the West End facility will open in September. the facility will face the Atlanta BeltLine’s westside trail, which is currently under construction and expected to open later this year. .
The addition of Monday Night Brewing to the West End comes as the community has launched a Community Improved District to revitalize one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
ORIGINAL STORY: Atlanta’s West End community — home to historic Atlanta University Center and one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods — has created a tax district in an effort to revitalize the area.
West End merchants — which include funeral homes, mom-and-pop eateries, architecture firms and the Mall West End — are hoping to gather as much as $103,000 a year by agreeing to raise their property taxes and put the money into a West End Community Improvement District.
The money, which they hope to receive later this year or early in 2018, will be used to hire off duty or retired police officers to patrol streets, to develop greenspace and to widen sidewalks and add bike paths.
“Nobody wants to have their property taxes raised, but once the merchants realized they would have say in how the money is spent, they said, “This is a good deal,’” said Atlanta City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow, who represents the area. “This is a really big deal for us because we’re really the first inner-city neighborhood to get a CID.”
The move comes as the West End — a community that includes areas around Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Joseph Lowery Boulevard and Cascade Avenue just west of downtown — is celebrating an increase in visibility.
Developers are eyeing the area as the next pick up in the city’s white-hot housing market. The Atlanta BeltLine runs through the community, opening up the possibility it can be a magnet for jobs and investment like it has been in Old Fourth Ward. And new shops, such as Monday Night Brewing Company, are moving into West End to stake a claim while prices are affordable.
But the area also struggles with the perception it is a haven of criminal activity, especially around the Mall West End. A man was shot in the leg on Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard near the mall earlier this month.
In March, rival gang members exchanged gunfire outside the shopping center after what police think was an argument that begin inside. It was the second shooting around the shopping destination in less than a month.
“Safety is a major concern, as well as aesthetics,” said Nicole McGhee Hall, owner of Nickel Works Consulting, which helped the merchants put together the CID.
Hall said the merchants will elect a board of directors, who will set the millage rate the West End CID participants will pay in addition to their regular property taxes. The average CID millage rate in metro Atlanta — there are CIDs throughout the area, including in Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Midtown — is 3 mills to 5 mills.
The improvements will begin slowly, supporters of the idea said. At $103,000, they won’t have the kind of money to make big changes that usually cost in the millions. So they’ll have to spend their money wisely by partnering with organizations with deeper pockets.
For instance, they may apply for help on beautification projects in which the city and state can pitch in money. Or the merchants can partner with AU Center on installing safety cameras that go beyond the campuses.
“It’s a good place to start,” Hall said of the initial funding. “There are CIDs that have started for less.”
A.J. Robinson, president of downtown business improvement group Central Atlanta Progress — one of the city’s oldest CIDs — said West End merchants will be happy they took the plunge.
“It’s your money,” he said. “This is property tax money you can control instead of sending it off and hoping it will come back.”
Charles Williams, owner of real estate firm Elexis Properties, said the impact for business owners will be substantial.
“This will change the very perception of the West End,” Williams, economic development chair of the West End Merchants Coalition, said in a release. “We know by looking at some of the other community improvement districts, such as those in Buckhead, the Cumberland area, and the Midtown CID, that they positively affected the residential parts of their communities.”
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