Equity in Atlanta #4 | Adaptive Reuse

Updated: Jan 22


From railroad to public park, from an airforce base to a region’s leading film studio- what role do adaptive reuse projects play in the economic vitality of a region?


The Atlanta BeltLine is a former rail line that surrounds metro Atlanta in an almost continuous 22-mile loop, crossing through 45 unique neighborhoods. Conceptualized by a former Georgia Tech student, the project is now a massive economic development project that, when finished, will provide 22 miles of multi-use trail for Atlanta residents.


More than just a infrastructure project that brings transportation or public health solutions, the BeltLine is connecting neighborhoods that have been literally divided by its tracks for decades.

Clyde Higgins, interim CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., believes the project is as much about repairing the spirit of the city as it is about bringing stackable solutions to the communities it touches.

Stackable solutions - housing that is affordable (in the neighborhood you want to live in), public health, workforce development strategies, community involvement, small business access - all integrated systems and pieces of community economic development that the BeltLine aims to bring through its project to the neighborhoods it traverses. Integration and stacking is critical; affordable housing alone, for example, will not be the panacea for community economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods that are changing as quickly as the rail line itself. Partnerships at every level between local non-profits, city and state agencies, and community-based organizations have brought the BeltLine to life and will continue to challenge and support the project as it completes its loop.


Aerotropolis Atlanta (AeroATL) is an airport city initiative that aims to leverage the popularity of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to create a thriving home for aerospace, logistics, bio-life sciences, multimedia production, and food agribusiness clusters. The district already hosts the Porsche Headquarters, Tyler Perry Studios, and McPherson airbase redevelopment with a blueprint to continue investments in the district’s core catalytic sites. The airport-adjacent campus is supported by a Community Improvement District (CID) and three “Collectives” or action committees for workforce development, economic development, and education. The jobs and enthusiasm generated from the campus are already significant, and underscore the theme of partnership and collaboration: the Aerotropolis Alliance includes representation from every municipal, county, and regional entity within its boundaries, as well as major private and non-profit partners. All involved are working toward regional economic development goals.


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