While scouting Atlanta last summer as a potential relocation destination, Eleanor Anderson stayed at an Airbnb property on East Point’s Church Street. She went for a walk, and four blocks down the street, happened upon a blighted parking lot and boarded-up, former car dealership with raggedy awnings.
It was love at first sight.
A former planning commissioner and devotee of smart, socially sensitive adaptive-reuse projects, Anderson now lives two blocks from that two-acre lot on Washington Avenue, which she has under contract with tentative plans to close in late July.
She’s founding a development company called Tri-Cities Building and Land, and her goal is to create a unique, transit-served retail and food hub with a “middle housing” component for East Point, neighboring communities, and the rest of Atlanta.
East Point’s MARTA station is about three blocks from the dealership site, which includes two buildings totaling 14,000 square feet.
“Making sure the project fits into the neighborhood, is an attractive gathering point for families, and follows the city’s Comprehensive Plan are very important to me,” Anderson wrote to Curbed Atlanta via email.
Anderson is working with Atlanta-based Kronberg Wall Architecture, a firm behind adaptive-reuse and other progressive projects across the city, to devise plans for what could be a brew pub and commercial kitchen. But first, her closing on the site is contingent upon a rezoning from CR (commercial redevelopment, which requires more surface parking) to mixed-use, she said.
She’s also in talks with Options Real Estate in Dallas, the company behind projects Tyler Station and DeSoto Marketplace that she calls “great precedents” for East Point.
Beyond a cafe and brewery that would anchor the redevelopment, Anderson envisions a small business incubation center on the property, potentially with a commercial kitchen that’s either rented or operated as a time-share to help grow upstart, food-based companies. Other spaces could be leased to small businesses.
Existing awnings at the site, she notes, have electrical access, which would allow for food carts that could help incubate restaurant concepts. Her goal is to open the project by mid-2020, pending zoning changes and delays.
Elsewhere on site, Anderson hopes to swap pavement for a courtyard, and build a mixed-use component along Park Street, with a pocket neighborhood placed along a weedy Church Street section.
Beyond MARTA access, Anderson said a new ACE Hardware and existing daycare across the street are perks that could draw residents and workers to the location.
City officials and the property’s current owner have been supportive of Anderson’s vision, she said. Site plans and project renderings aren’t available yet.
“Underneath all that plywood, particle board, and grime is a beautiful building waiting to be restored,” Anderson added.
In other East Point news, the third location of a Soccer in the Streets field next to MARTA’s rail network is under construction nearby on Main Street, with expectations of opening for communal matches next month.
And plans have advanced in recent years for an ambitious network of PATH trails around East Point that could one day span nearly 25 miles.