Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2021 — The pandemic highlighted the need for greater community outreach to address primary shortcomings. Shannon James, president and CEO of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, spoke with Focus: Atlanta and shared his blueprint for doing just that, focusing on affordable housing developments and a bolstered bio life sciences industry for the area.
What have been Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance’s most significant takeaways over the past year?
Looking back, we quickly recognized that we were operating at a high level and lacked sufficient community engagement. Last year forced us to pivot and focus more on coordination of resources due to the prevalent community inequities. The combined effect of the pandemic/recession severely negatively impacts regions like ours. It really forced us to take a step back and pivot our efforts to support our overarching mission. It allowed us to become more familiar with a variety of community leaders and stakeholders.
What is the vision for the Six West development?
The City of College Park’s Six West Development was the #1 catalytic site identified in our original Blueprint efforts, which called for the coordination and development of a central business district surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The undeveloped 322-acre site will allow citizens and visitors from all over to drive near the airport as a destination. It will; transform the way we think of live, learn, work and play ecosystems.
The site will include single-family homes, multi-family, townhomes, condos, Class-A office space and four/five-star hotels. The residential developers have already set their price points, specs and designs. Hotels and some offices are under contract.
Directly across the street, several large parcels are under contract due to the momentum and excitement behind Six West. It will be a game changer for the entire region thanks to our partners in the City of College Park and College Park Business and Industrial Authority.
How did the pandemic impact the Alliance’s regional land-use study?
The pandemic significantly magnified existing conditions. Regarding the next evolution of the study, we’re excited to announce we were able to advance our Blueprint 2.0 study through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). This came about because of EDA grant funding to the ARC. We received $150,000 in grant funding. The study will allow us to continue to work with our key stakeholders to create an implementation strategy around economic, workforce and community development.
What industries would you like to see consolidating a real presence in the region?
Multi-Media Production and Bio-Life sciences industries are surging across the state of Georgia. We have several sites that could lend themselves to the industry. The median income is strong and we want to bring those types of jobs to our region. This would allow us to customize local industry training and placement to improve economic mobility.
What is the state of affairs and vision behind the Greenway Master Plan?
We recently completed our feasibility study with seven jurisdictions. We’re now having discussions with those cities and their model miles around the implementation and construction. We have engineering site designs and cost estimates for model mileage in the City of East Point and are now advocating for funding. We’ve had discussions with the Path Foundation and the ultimate vision is connectivity to the Atlanta Beltline by connecting to the southside trail.
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