A comprehensive urban redevelopment project underway in Atlanta will shape the city's real estate landscape for decades to come. Such was the conclusion of participants in a recent tour of the Atlanta Beltline coordinated by the Atlanta Fed's Center for Real Estate Analytics.
Building on 22 miles of mostly abandoned railroad tracks circling the city, the project promises to add roughly 1,300 acres of green space while creating opportunities for affordable housing and economic development initiatives along the Beltline. The project also includes plans to create public transit connecting the Beltline neighborhoods.
Photos by Christopher T. Martin
According to project planners, the project, which aims to redevelop nearly 3,000 acres of underused property along the Beltline, will create about 30,000 permanent jobs over the next 20–25 years and generate more than $20 billion in new economic development. Importantly, much of the redevelopment will occur in areas that historically have suffered from underinvestment.
In addition to highlighting various segments of the Beltline corridor, the tour also featured presentations from experts involved in the project, including real estate professionals and community and economic development practitioners.
The Old Fourth Ward neighborhood situated just a few miles east of downtown Atlanta offers visible proof of the Beltline's potential. The neighborhood recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of Historic Fourth Ward Park—an important milestone of the Beltline project. In addition to adding much-needed green space, the park is also expected to attract new development to the historic neighborhood. Some of it is already happening. Participants on the tour visited the new park and took in the gradual revitalization of the area, including new restaurants and retail establishments and several multifamily projects.
The tour also gave a firsthand look at how sustainable development, affordable housing, and neighborhood stabilization are playing a part in the Beltline. For instance, participants witnessed the devastating effects of mortgage fraud and high foreclosure rates in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Atlanta. During the recent housing boom, property values skyrocketed as investors rushed to buy properties in the historic neighborhood. But once the housing crisis hit in 2007, property values spiraled downward and Pittsburgh suffered one of the highest foreclosure rates in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The tour also highlighted early signs of renewal in the neighborhood as organizations like the Annie E. Casey Foundation work block-by-block to acquire and rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties.
The tour is one of a series of events coordinated by the Center for Real Estate Analytics aimed at initiating conversations and adding context to the Center's data analysis and academic research. Visit the Center's web page to stay informed about real estate activity in the Southeast and the nation.