Over the past year, long-dormant Atlanta Public Schools properties have been revived for more practical uses in places like Old Fourth Ward and Adair Park. Now that trend is set to continue in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Venetian Hills, according to a minority-owned media and communications company with hopes of developing a creative hub that taps Georgia’s booming entertainment industry.

RYSE Interactive recently received zoning approval to move forward with a mixed-use redevelopment of the former Preston Arkwright Elementary School, which has been vacant since its closure in 2004.

The company plans to invest $25 million over two phases to create RYSE Creative Village, a “pioneering” mix of studios, incubator space, and affordable housing that will aim to uplift historically Black communities a short drive from Tyler Perry Studios, reps tell Urbanize Atlanta.

RYSE (pronounced “rise”) purchased the school property for $485,000 in May last year, according to property records. A company rep says several adjacent parcels are included in the deal for a total of more than 4 acres.

The former Preston Arkwright Elementary building, as seen in March 2020. Google Maps

The village’s $10-million first phase is scheduled to break ground this fall and create roughly 85 jobs in Southwest Atlanta.

Plans in a later phase call for building a 100-unit apartment complex with relatively affordable rents, where a diverse pool of creatives might live while growing careers next door in film and television production, photography, music, gaming, or other fields, officials say.

“We see RYSE Creative Village as a resource for curating and cultivating local, diverse creatives—helping them get connected to some of the larger opportunities,” Jay Jackson, RYSE Interactive founder, said in a prepared statement. “We envision [the project] being part of a much larger ecosystem of resources for local creatives, similar to what accelerator programs have done in fostering the development of tech start-up founders.”

The proposed village at 1261 Lockwood Drive SW. Courtesy of RYSE Interactive

Planned amenities onsite will include a screening theater, editing suites, a café and coworking space, a virtual reality and gaming center, and spaces for meetings and lectures.

According to the Georgia Council for the Arts, the state’s creative industries have had a $62.5 billion impact on the economy in recent years and generated $37 billion in revenue, accounting for about 200,000 jobs.

“Having a nexus where our aspiring artists can interact with established leaders in the ecosystem is critical,” Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick added in the announcement. “RYSE’s decision to locate in Southwest Atlanta will play a key role in ensuring access to jobs for everyone.” 

Eventual plans for the 4-acre campus. Courtesy of RYSE Interactive

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