By Sara Warden
2 min read September 2019 — There are 26 qualified Opportunity Zones in the city of Atlanta, with the majority of them running down west of the I-75 in the city’s Westside. The qualified Opportunity Zones were born from a fiscal effort to drive private business into low-income communities. But it is more than just tax incentives that make Atlanta’s Westside one of the city’s fastest-gentrifying areas.
“There is demand,” Avison Young Principal Casey Keitchen told Bisnow. “There’s way more capital chasing qualified Opportunity Zone deals than there are qualified Opportunity Zone deals.”
This week, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation awarded a $17.5 million grant to Atlanta BeltLine Partnership to support development of Westside Park. The 280-acre park is slated to be the largest greenspace in Atlanta when it opens, with the first phase set to be inaugurated in 2020. The donation will be combined with $26.5 million from the city.
“Westside Park is a transformational project that will set an exciting new precedent for greenspace development across Atlanta,” said John Dargle, Jr., Commissioner for the city’s Parks & Recreation department in an interview with Atlanta Daily World.
According to Arthur M. Blank, Chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the aim of the project is to create a community in an area that did not have the facilities to do so. “We want these Westside communities to feel like this is their park where residents, neighbors, and visitors are connecting and gathering because that is when Atlanta is at its very best,” he told Atlanta Daily World.
In the last few years, private developers have flocked to the area to take advantage of the qualified Opportunity Zone, among other features.
“Westside is all the rage creative office. That makes sense,” Banyan Street Capital Principal Taylor White told Bisnow. “It makes a lot of sense for Opportunity Zone investors to go to that market.”
The magic of the Westside is that it is the point of crossover between most qualified Opportunity Zones and the Atlanta BeltLine project, meaning this real estate is worth its weight in gold. It can offer easy mobility, green spaces, social spaces and entertainment. Added to this is the Westside’s easy access to educational facilities, in particular Georgia Tech, which means that for developers, the sky is the limit.
One developer that saw opportunity in the area is CrossStone Management, a firm that purchased several land parcels and is now looking to build retail, residential and commercial space. “I was attracted to the areas before Opportunity Zones were even discussed,” said the firm’s founder, Greg Todey, to Bisnow.
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