ATLANTA - The Mercedes-Benz Stadium peaks just over the treetops. The sunlight gleaming off of its steel roof, the possibility of the stadiums potential shining with promise of the things to come.
But in its shadows, dilapidated homes and businesses in an area that was once thriving. Now community activists hope it can get back to the way it used to be.
“The Beltline is affecting our affordability,” said community activist Robby Caban. “You have Mercedes-Benz, Arthur Blank, awesome billionaire. He has a vision. Porsche. But how exactly do the residents of southwest Atlanta benefit from any of these?”
Caban headed up a committee to revitalize Southwest Atlanta three years ago. The area is roughly a 10-minute drive from the new stadium. She worked with the city's neighborhood planning unit.
“We need the mayor to keep his word and we need support from our councilwoman,” she said.
This as 14 local youth sports programs got more than $3 million for the West Side. It was funded by Laureus Sport For Good Foundation and Mercedes.
Over the next three years, kids will be taking part in the sports program, all activity that will hopefully boost the neighborhood
“It has potential. It’s a different type of development. Arthur Blank, and this is not a critique on him, but he’s doing his vision and great things. But this is the vision of the (southwest Atlanta) community,” Caban said.
Robert Thompson conducts walking tours with his company Insight Cultural Tourism around the ‘Swats’ and West End. He said something has to change.
“The stadium presents an opportunity. We get them here, now what do we do?”
Caban said opportunities are endless, while creating local jobs, which she claims are currently non-existent.
“We want to extend the Beltline and create a healthy corridor,” Caban said. “If we had a hospitality district, they would be able to bike in to work and that's so key because we have so many people who don't have cars and who quite frankly, need jobs.”
In regards to Caban’s comments, a City of Atlanta spokesperson released the following statement:
“The City of Atlanta Department of City Planning works to enable sustainable and equitable growth and development in Atlanta. We understand that community engagement and input is essential to city planning. We rely on our Neighborhood Planning Units to make recommendations to the Mayor’s Office and Atlanta City Council on zoning, land use and other issues.
Working with NPU-X, the City of Atlanta updated zoning regulation in the area to help promote revitalization. Commercial zoning was changed to mixed-residential zoning to help ensure for new development that would include businesses, housing, sidewalks, street lights and trees.
We are open to additional recommendations that the Neighborhood Planning Unit would like to be considered.”
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