April Summit Recap: Atlanta BeltLine’s Work and Impact in the Historic Westside Community

Westside residents, community members, and business leaders convened for the April 19 Transform Westside Summit to hear about the progress and impact Atlanta BeltLine has had on the historic Westside community, including their multifaceted approach in promoting equitable development, fostering community engagement, and transforming urban landscapes for the benefit of all residents.

James Tomlin, English Avenue resident, led the devotion. John Ahmann, Westside Future Fund President and CEO, and Tameka Askew, Westside Future Fund’s Home on the Westside Manager Westside Future Fund led the discussion.

Leadership from both Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI), which oversees the planning, developing and execution of the Atlanta BeltLine project, and Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP), the fundraising, programming and advocacy arm, participated in the discussion. Panelists included:

  • Rob Brawner, Executive Director, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership
  • Kevin Burke, Director of Design, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
  • Dennis Richards, Vice President, Housing Policy & Development, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

Key Highlights from the Conversation

Historic Impact

Atlanta BeltLine’s transformative impact on the City has been particularly significant for Westside residents. 

Community-Oriented Development

Panelists highlighted the BeltLine’s focus on community-driven development, with an emphasis on affordable housing, job creation and commercial opportunities tailored to Westside residents’ needs. Through extensive dialogue with residents and stakeholders, the BeltLine aims to address community needs and preferences while fostering a sense of ownership and pride in the project.

Affordable Housing Initiatives

The BeltLine’s commitment to affordable housing production and strategic land acquisition directly benefits Westside residents. Gap financing and partnerships with organizations like City of Refuge aim to provide housing options that cater to a wide range of incomes.

Land Ownership and Development Projects

Ownership of significant land assemblies on the Westside, along with planned mixed-use development projects like Murphy Crossing and Chapel Road, promise to bring much-needed housing, commercial spaces, and amenities to the community.

Equity and Inclusion

The BeltLine’s commitment to equity and inclusion extends to its business practices, with a focus on minority, women-owned, and disadvantaged business participation. Programs supporting local entrepreneurship and small businesses ensure that economic benefits are accessible to all members of the community. Intentional community engagement and design considerations, such as ADA compliance and accessibility, are integral to fostering inclusive spaces along the BeltLine.

Catalytic Development

The completion of the Atlanta BeltLine promises to be a catalyst for significant development opportunities, particularly on the Westside. Panelists emphasized the potential for increased density, commercial growth, and job creation, echoing the success seen on the BeltLine’s eastside. By engaging with community stakeholders and preserving the legacy of long-term residents, the BeltLine aims to create a vibrant and inclusive Westside community for generations to come.

Miss the event? Watch the full Transform Westside Summit on YouTube.