in community and economic development
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Volume 9, Number 2
In This Issue
A personal reflection on Cabbagetown and its people.
Living in High Cotton
Key Players in redevelopment who make things happen.
Historic Tax Credits
Tax Credits made simple: what they are and how they work.
Community Development Beyond Our Borders
Reserve Bank hosts visit from French contingent.
New website for community development information.
Certain events in life are simply unforgettable. Perhaps you can recall exactly what you were doing when John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated. Or you remember the day Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. More recently, an event occurred in an inner city Atlanta neighborhood that will remain etched in many people's minds forever. Many heroes emerged that day, and we take this opportunity to report a compelling story of bravery combined with an even bigger picture of heroism. By using one inner city neighborhood as an example, this issue of Partners reflects on the thousands of individuals, mostly unsung heroes, who dedicate their careers to community development work.
It was the afternoon of April 12, 1999, when a trash fire broke out in the Cabbagetown neighborhood and quickly spread to the 100-year-old timbers in the historic Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill undergoing renovation. Out of control in a matter of only a few minutes and reportedly the largest fire in 15 years, the blaze trapped a crane operator 250 feet above the ground. With flames shooting higher and the heat becoming unbearable, Ivers Sims crawled out of the crane's cab with his two-way radio, onto the horizontal arm, and down to a concrete counterweight. For almost 90 minutes, with his life in jeopardy, he spoke with his supervisor on the ground below and waited for help.
Renovation of the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill into affordable housing was well underway before the April 1999 fire.
Captain Boyd Clines, a pilot with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and his navigator, Larry Rogers, carefully directed a Bell Long Ranger L-4 elicopter in a dramatic rescue that was captured by television and broadcast live throughout the country. Few will forget the sight of the courageous Atlanta firefighter, Matt Moseley, who hung from a 50-foot helicopter rope and was slowly raised to the top of the crane. With winds swirling around them and intense heat and updrafts complicating the rescue, these men risked their lives to successfully rescue a trapped worker whom they had never met.
Heroes. No doubt about it. But they were not alone. Hundreds of citizens did amazing things that day. From dozens of law enforcements officers, to the 110 firefighters, to the neighborhood rescuing pets and belongings from nearby houses that caught fire, the best of human character was on display that day.
The Cabbagetown community lies in the shadows of the old cotton mill.
Behind the scenes and over a long period of time, even more good people were at work. These unsung heroes include: the developers who are determined to revitalize this distressed area and maintain its historic integrity; the ankers willing to finance the ventures; the nonprofit organizations working to reduce displacement and improve the quality of life; the government agencies willing to support and encourage these efforts with incentives, code enforcement, and crime protection; and the foundations willing to support these efforts with loans and grants.
As with any community development project, many people work tirelessly behind the scenes to meet the needs of distressed areas, and low- and moderate-income people. Despite occasional setbacks, this spirit is alive and well today as rebuilding efforts have begun. To these individuals, behind their desks, behind the scenes, and on the front lines, we offer our sincere thanks. – Editor