Citing the power of community collaboration, Invest Atlanta officials announced today that a neighborhood-boosting YMCA project is officially a go in Vine City—and that a richly historic school building on site will be preserved and incorporated into the new facility.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta Leadership and Learning Center in Vine City is planned to be the latest bright spot in neighborhoods that have long struggled with blight in the shadow of the Georgia Dome—and now Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Philanthropic contributions raised through a YMCA capital campaign are footing the bill for two-thirds of the $24-million project. Invest Atlanta is kicking in $2.5 million through a TAD grant approved today, and almost $7 million is coming from private investors.
Architecturally, the project will include the redevelopment of Jordan Hall—formerly part of Morris Brown College, and before that, one of Atlanta’s first African-American schools, Edmund Asa Ware Elementary School. Financial troubles forced Morris Brown
to shutter the school, and it was eventually auctioned off. CORRECTION: The school sold the building but it was never closed and remains active today.
“Based on the input received at community meetings and listening sessions, the [YMCA project] will preserve the iconic entry building fronting Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, and much of the new façade will complement the style and scale of the original building,” Invest Atlanta officials said in a press release.
Elsewhere, plans call for the center to directly engage and benefit residents of surrounding communities.
Beyond a new local headquarters for the YMCA of Metro Atlanta’s administrative offices, the center will house a Head Start learning facility for between 70 and 90 kids up to age 4, where priority will go to families in Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, and other Westside neighborhoods.
Within that facility will be a “regional innovation and training lab” for YMCA staff throughout the Southeast, which will also be open to people in surrounding neighborhoods and local nonprofits, officials said.
Another facet “will include a small community market offering quality, affordable groceries and healthy ‘grab and go’ meal options sourced from local farms,” per the press release.
Expect construction to launch on the YMCA center this summer—and an opening in fall 2018.