A nonprofit group and its partners broke ground over the weekend on the first phase of a commercial development that backers say will bring jobs south of downtown Atlanta.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and a joint-venture team called Columbia Core Partners say the $26 million first phase of Pittsburgh Yards will create space for shops, restaurants, offices and light industrial businesses. The project will rise on 14 acres of a 31-acre site sandwiched between University Avenue and the future southern Beltline trail.
“Atlanta’s economic landscape is changing with more major development initiatives breaking ground south of Interstate 20,” Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, said in a news release.
The Pittsburgh community, one of the oldest in the city, was hard hit by the housing crisis and Great Recession. It’s also earned a reputation for high crime over the years. But the community has been seen as one of sizable potential because of its location along the Beltline and proximity to downtown and the world’s busiest airport.
The Casey Foundation, created by the founder of UPS, has spent years working to help revitalize the Pittsburgh community. Its other programs include a partnership with Wells Fargo and Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, to rehab dozens of blighted houses and build new homes on vacant lots in the neighborhood.
The foundation acquired the site from UPS in 2006.
The first phase includes plans to repurpose shipping containers for shops and office space, as well as land set aside for green space, said Dillon Baynes, an executive with Columbia Ventures, a partner in Columbia Core. An existing 61,000-square-foot building will be converted for creative work spaces for entrepreneurs, as well as space for light industrial work such as furniture makers and artists.
Developers also plan to prepare three developable pads for future construction, new roads, utilities and a spur to the future Beltline path. The first phase should open by next summer, Baynes said.
A second phase, that will likely include a denser concentration of commercial and industrial space, also is planned.
“The mantra we have for the project is: 10 years, 1,000 local jobs and 1 million square feet of development,” Baynes said.
Developers and the Casey Foundation will place a priority on hiring throughout local neighborhoods, Baynes said.
A news release said the foundation and developers have a goal that local residents will total half of new hires for entry- and mid-level jobs.