For years, the intersection of Peachtree and Pine streets in the northern reaches of downtown has been a notorious place — one many in the city avoid due to ongoing issues of violence and aggressive drug dealing.
The homeless shelter at the intersection has taken the brunt of the blame, with civic leaders, business captains, and residents doing everything within their power to get the shelter closed and the population it serves relocated to other sites around town.
Now, shelter leaders are turning on the city and neighborhood organizations, alleging to Creative Loafing that the area is being neglected by police, who they claim are turning a blind eye to crime issues in order to help paint the shelter in a negative light.
Mayor Kasim Reed’s office stressed that such claims aren’t true at all, citing more than 1,000 arrests just this year within two blocks of the shelter.
Additionally, the shelter’s staff alleges that people who hang out around the shelter during the day — and have been known to harass motorists and leave trash on Courtland Street — are not affiliated with the shelter.
However, the city goes so far as to say in a statement that the shelter has “attracted illegal and drug activity for years... [and] contributes to the problem by doing nothing to prevent it.”
A pending court case pits neighborhood organizations against the shelter, which alleges it’s being bullied into leaving the neighborhood.
Despite the acrimony, shelter leaders claim that Central Atlanta Progress — one of the organizations blamed for orchestrating negative perceptions of the place — attempted to buy the building for a staggering $11 million, though that sale never materialized and CAP would not comment on the claim.
Judicial gridlock appeared to have finally been broken back in the fall, when the city announced its intentions to negotiate with the shelter’s management to close the facility, or take it via eminent domain. However, it seems those plans didn’t pan out how city leaders expected.
Is the latest round of finger-pointing just the next strange turn in the saga, or a final push by the shelter to stand its ground?