The Atlanta BeltLine’s role as landholder and development suitor is continuing in a major way on the city’s southside.

BeltLine officials announced today they’ve purchased 13.7 acres of vacant land along the BeltLine’s Southside Trail at 356 University Avenue. The expanse of overgrown embankments and concrete is located immediately west of Pittsburgh Yards, an adaptive-reuse jobs hub that began coming online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BeltLine leaders say the land will be used for development that continues its quest to build affordable housing, jobs centers, and more affordable commercial opportunities at sites along the eventual 22-mile, multipurpose loop. The land was purchased from AECF Atlanta Realty LLC—a subsidiary of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a philanthropic organization that manages Pittsburgh Yards. The deal was financed with a loan from SouthState Bank, per the BeltLine.

After purchasing the Pittsburgh property, which is visible from the downtown Connector, the BeltLine says it has tripled its landholdings around the loop in the past three years. Other sites with tall redevelopment ambitions include nearby Murphy Crossing, two properties in Grove Park, and a 2.6-acre site near Lindbergh.  

Courtesy of Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

So what’s next in Pittsburgh? BeltLine leaders say a community engagement process will be held to determine the best and most equitable uses for the nearly 14-acre site, with a goal of creating housing, jobs, and business spaces for locals. Casey Foundation officials are expected to take part in that process by serving on a stakeholder advisory committee, alongside nearby residents.

“After incorporating the desires and vision of adjacent residents and local businesses into the plans,” reads the BeltLine’s announcement today, “the BeltLine will issue a Request for Proposals to invite developers to submit proposals to redevelop the site.”

The timeline for the community meetings is TBD.  

Rough depiction of the 13.7 acres in question, with Pittsburgh Yards and its grassy James Bridges Field in the foreground. The Southside Trail is at left. Photo by LoKnows Drones

Clyde Higgs, Atlanta BeltLine president and CEO, called the land purchase a “catalytic opportunity” for bringing equitable development to neighborhoods that have historically been disinvested.

“Purchasing this parcel,” Higgs said in a prepared statement, “is another step [the BeltLine] is taking in our focus on righting historic wrongs that have left residents and communities behind in the face of city-wide growth.”   

As reported on these pages in February, Pittsburgh Yards is also aiming to redevelop 5 acres of “plug and play” sites next to its current buildings. The goal is to attract organizations capable of creating up to 1,000 more jobs at Pittsburgh Yards on those parcels.

The 31-acre Pittsburgh Yards, a project led by the Casey Foundation, is unique among BeltLine-bordering developments in that it’s geared toward benefiting the surrounding communities with jobs and programming. Pittsburgh Yards’ Nia Building, a former trucking terminal, includes 101 office suites today, plus an amphitheater, apartments, conference spaces, and other facets. A new onsite food and retail component called the Container Courtyard was expected to open beside the BeltLine last spring but has yet to materialize.

BeltLine officials reiterated their stated goal today that, by the end of 2024, 80 percent of the trail loop with be either finished or under construction.


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