ATLANTA BELTLINE WESTSIDE IMPACTS THE WEST END COMMUNITY (part 2)
Kelsey Jones (NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellow)
(This is part two of an article focusing on the community of West End. The first part was published in the June 16-22, 2017 issue. Go to www.theatlantavoice.com.)
West End, one of Atlanta’s oldest and historical neighborhoods, is becoming one of Atlanta’s booming business districts with the addition of the new Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail.
After eight years of planning and preparation, the neighborhood was approved for a Community Improvement District (CID). Neighborhood and business leaders hope this CID will improve the livability and sustainability in the West End.
Residents should start seeing renovations such as sidewalk expansion, new bike paths and transportation upgrades later this year or early next year. In addition, the merchants in the area would like to buy more security cameras and hire off-duty officers to patrol the West End streets.
Along with the CID, The Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail which is nearing construction is already attracting non-traditional businesses to a predominantly black neighborhood.
Lean Draft House, located on Hopkins Street across from Gordon White Park, became the first business to open on the Westside Trail. The pub opened its doors last week and served a full house.
Monday Night Brewing, an Atlanta based brewery, is set to open its second brewery in Atlanta on the Westside Trail. Last month, Mayor Kasim Reed along with West End homeowners and elected officials joined CEO and co-founder Joel Iverson in the ground breaking on Lee Street.
In his opening remarks, Iverson explained how Monday Night Brewing will impact the local community. “Our hope is that Monday Night Brewing will not just add jobs and create investment, but that we might be a place where people come to deepen human relationships and hopefully a place where people can have dialogue about our city and how we all might play a role in its thriving.”
Iverson also announced a campaign called “100k in 100 days.” The monies from the first 100 days of business will be used to fund nonprofit organizations in the West End community including United Way on White Street and Wecycle Atlanta.
“These are just of the few of the groups doing vital work in the community and we’re thrilled to not only raise money, but also expose their work to a larger Atlanta audience,” he said.
Wearing a big smile, Mayor Reed expressed his happiness about what was happening in West End.
“The Atlanta Beltline is going to be something for everyone in Atlanta. The Atlanta Beltline is going to bring prosperity and renewed opportunity to everyone,” Reed said.
Atlanta City Councilmember District 4, Cleta Winslow whose District 4 covers West End has said she has been bullish on the community for years. When asked what kind of impact do she see the Beltline having on the community already, she commented, “For us it’s positive. We have some of the oldest houses in the city. We are the oldest neighborhood. Our houses are older than Inman Park or Grant Park. We see it positive in turns of the retail that will be coming in. We have been looking for quality of retail….”
The Westside Trail will run from University Avenue in Adair Park to Lena Avenue at Washington Park. It will run directly through Atlanta’s West End neighborhood and even use the existing West End Trail located on White Street. It will connect neighborhoods of Washington Park, Hunter Hills, Ashview Heights, Mozley Park, Westview, West End and Adair Park.
Once the trail is completed in September, it will be a three-mile bicycle and pedestrian-safe transportation on corridor with 14 access points, 11 of which will be ADA accessible. In addition, The Westside Trail will also provide easy connections to four area schools and immediate access to multiple MARTA bus routes and walking distance from two MARTA rail stations.
Besides Monday Night Brewing, when asked do she expect to see more nontraditional businesses Winslow said, “Yes, two other breweries are also expected to locate here. A pickle factory is coming in and a gelato factory is coming, a cheese factory all located on Lee Street near the Beltline. There is a biker’s theme restaurant coming in located on Hopkins Street right behind Dunkin Doughnuts.”
Some residents of the West End believe their community is being “gentrified” with the new developments and there is a fear that higher taxes will run out some of the long time and elderly residents.
Winslow points out that the renovation of houses that is underway now is on homes that have been abandoned or vacant for some years. “No one is being displaced, so let’s make that clear,” she said in an interview with The Atlanta Voice.
She also pointed out that the Beltline has enabled some people to be able do repairs on their home. “They got $25,000 grant a house to get some repairs done. We want to be sensitive to the fact that we want to keep our seniors in place,” she said.
In agreeance with Winslow is fellow council member council president and mayoral candidate Ceasar Mitchell. “I’m excited about what’s happening in West End. I live in this community,” he told AV. “The thing that we want to make sure of is that we keep some affordable housing in this community. We don’t want to displace our seniors. That’s important.”
Kelsey Jones is a 2017 NNPA “Discover The Unexpected” Journalism Fellow and a student at Spelman College. This summer, Kelsey is creating content for The Atlanta Voice, a member newspaper of the NNPA. Follow Kelsey on Twitter @kelseyfjones.
Fellow, The Atlanta Voice
Kelsey Jones is a senior pursuing an English degree at Spelman College. Born and raised in Albany, GA, this budding journalist developed a passion for Journalism while in high school after being on the school’s yearbook staff. She aspires to be a local reporter/anchor in a top 10 market. Kelsey has honed her journalistic skills as a news intern at WSB-TV and a former staff writer for the Morehouse College Maroon Tiger Newspaper. She also has had her photo essay of her travels to the Dominican Republic displayed in a photo exhibition at Spelman College. As a first-generation college student, Kelsey plans to use her voice to reach a broader audience and embark on a journey to Discover the Unexpected.