The Southern Poverty Law Center is looking to decamp from current Atlanta headquarters near downtown Decatur and grow the organization in new offices they’ll occupy for at least two decades.

As of this week, the non-government, racial justice agency is officially asking for ideas as to where they should go.

The SPLC released a Request for Proposals, or RFP, on Tuesday seeking partners to build a planned 60,000-square-foot office complex that’s more accessible to metro Atlanta communities of need.

As such, being within walking distance of a MARTA train station is high on the list of SPLC’s priorities. As is being “a tool to enliven the neighborhood and support the work of area community organizations and nonprofits,” according to an SPLC announcement.

SPLC leaders plan to buy between two and 10 acres in hopes of opening the new offices in summer 2024, though they aren’t ruling out redeveloping the right existing structure. They’re also open to buying additional land nearby to grow a “community impact component,” which could include everything from free meeting spaces to a food hall aimed at helping BIPOC restaurants launch.

“The community impact portion of this project has no budget,” notes the RFP, “[and] the SPLC is willing to consider big, bold, and audacious ideas.”

Founded in 1971, the Montgomery-based SPLC saw a “rare opportunity” in the agency’s expiring lease in Decatur, said Margaret Huang, SPLC president and chief executive.

“Our new community-centric complex will be more accessible and inviting than ever before,” Huang said in a prepared statement. “We’re interested in relocating to an area that is prime for growth, diverse, and culturally inclusive.”

SPLC’s Atlanta office employs 90 people—half of whom use MARTA train service to commute to work—but plans to grow to 140 employees by 2024, officials said. 

Parameters of the RFP are intentionally broad to allow “enough latitude to creatively envision" the right complex, said Avison Young’s agency leasing group principal Kirk Rich, a partner in the site search. 

Responses to the RFP are due November 29.

SPLC staff, board members, and Rich expect to review proposals and select potential partners by the end of this year, or in early 2022.

CORRECTION, 2:20 p.m., October 18: This article has been amended to reflect Kirk Rich's correct title. 


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