The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Nonprofits buy former Atlanta Community Food Bank HQ on city’s westside. Cox foundation donates $3 million toward the purchase.

The following article was originally published Jan. 30, 2020 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) and authored by J. Scott Trubey.


A pair of nonprofits said Wednesday they bought the former Atlanta Community Food Bank headquarters on the city’s westside, to preserve the building as a community gathering place and affordable space for small businesses.

The Westside Future Fund and Food Well Alliance said the 74,000-square-foot building at 970 Jefferson St. NW also will serve as office space for the nonprofits and as an education center highlighting community improvement efforts, according to a news release. The nonprofits paid $3.8 million.

The property served as the food bank’s home from 1984 to 2004 and as additional storage and office space since then. It has access to the Beltline and PATH trails and has been viewed as a likely redevelopment site in a neighborhood experiencing rampant real estate speculation since the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and development of the Beltline and Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.

The future fund is a nonprofit created by some of Atlanta’s biggest companies and then-Mayor Kasim Reed to help steer revitalization in the stadium neighborhoods while also seeking to preserve affordability. Food Well Alliance, founded by food bank founder Bill Bolling, promotes urban agriculture.

“Over the last few years, as part of the planning process for the Westside Land Use Framework Plan, we have heard repeatedly about the need for a modern, inclusive and accessible destination for residents to work, gather, learn and thrive together,” John Ahmann, president and CEO of future fund, said in a news release. “We look forward to sharing initial design concepts with the community this summer.”

The James M. Cox Foundation provided a $3 million grant to support the project. The foundation is the charitable arm of Cox Enterprises, whose media holdings include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“It’s a critical time for many of our neighborhoods, so we want to provide an accessible space to grow community by using food as a transformational tool for revitalization,” Bolling said.

Facing a space crunch between its Jefferson Street annex and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard headquarters, the food bank launched a fundraising campaign a few years ago for a new home, including expanded cold storage space. That new campus is expected to open before the end of March.

Food bank CEO Kyle Waide said his board made it a priority to find a community use for its former home at the Jefferson Street site.

“It wasn’t a guarantee that could happen, but we were going to give a priority to potential buyers even though it might mean we would be selling it at below market rates,” Waide said.

Waide said the food bank will continue to serve the westside through its network of partners.

“We expect to serve and support them even more effectively through our new location,” he said.

The food bank’s main headquarters building also was recently sold to a heating and air conditioning company.