Can Railroad Legacy Spur Next Big Intown Redevelopment?

September 16,2015


Just south of the heart of downtown Atlanta lies a vast tract of almost empty land. With remains of historic buildings and a prime close-in location, the Norfolk Southern rail-yards and many buildings owned by the railroad are as ripe for redevelopment as any land on the Beltline. And the fate of surrounding neighborhoods could hinge on that land. On the east side of the tracks lies Mechanicsville, while on the west is the Pittsburgh neighborhood. As the names indicate, this area was once the center of industrial Atlanta, but now the land sits underutilized. Both the Saporta Report and Architecture Tourist have featured the neighborhoods in recent postings, suggesting a renewed interest in a part of Atlanta many have long forgotten.

Atlanta was founded as a railroad town, and in the early days the city was shaped by the iron rails; the vestiges of the extensive infrastructure still shape our city today, and for evidence of how it can be adapted, look no further than the Beltline. With intown living so in demand these days, it seems such a waste for this large tract of land to lie fallow as other neighborhoods experience a Renaissance. Population growth is expected to hone in on the city in the coming decades with millennials and empty-nesters alike chomping at the bit for the chance to move intown. With skyrocketing prices and limited land, it can't be long before someone taps into these post-industrial spaces, right?

Terry Kearns, Mr. Architecture Tourist, photographed some of the old buildings and featured them on his blog last month, highlighting features that could lend coveted urban industrial grit to any new development. And the railroad properties in the area aren't the only potential boons for the neighborhood, no! The future Turner Field redevelopment could also prove a big boost just to the east ... so clearly this is a pivotal time for the near-south side.