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Hulsey Yard neighbors overwhelmingly want green space instead of rail hub

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CSX isn’t selling the property, but a pop-up studio is planned for May to help steer (potential) redevelopment

a picture of the property, behind the MARTA lines
One view of the roughly 70-acre Hulsey Yard site bordering DeKalb Avenue.
Google Maps

A rail yard wedged between Cabbagetown, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, and Reynoldstown still isn’t for sale, but neighbors are getting closer to drafting a redevelopment plan for the colossal site.

The 70-acre Hulsey Yard, which stretches through those neighborhoods and is bordered by the Beltline’s Eastside Trail, currently belongs to railroad giant CSX Transportation, which hasn’t indicated it intends to unload the property.

Nevertheless, about a month ago, a collective of Hulsey Yard neighbors launched a fundraising campaign to help enlist architecture firm Lord Aeck Sargent to reimagine the rail yard in a way that’s pedestrian-friendly and a boon to the local economy.

The community-led initiative has garnered more than $30,000 of its $50,000 goal.

That cash will be used to study the site and help process documentation needed to put the final masterplan in front of the Atlanta City Council for possible adoption.

Housing the freight cars seen above, Hulsey Yard divides Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park (top) from Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown (bottom).
Google Maps

Lord Aeck Sargent urban designer Matt Cherry recently told Curbed Atlanta the company is willing to pitch in some pro-bono work, too.

The Hulsey Yard Study Committee recently activated a website where stakeholders can donate to the cause and fill out a survey regarding what they’d like to see at the old rail yard.

“We’re hoping to make this a ‘YIMBY’ effort (yes in my backyard), instead of the oh-too-common NIMBYism you might see with other large developments,” said Committee Chairwoman Nicole Seekely.

Seekely told Curbed the website has collected a lot of community input, and “every single survey response so far has said they want green space incorporated into the plan.”

This approach to urban development, of course, is unorthodox, considering the property isn’t even on the market.

But proponents of the plan say being proactive with the design could help preempt a major developer from coming into the neighborhood and creating a vision for Hulsey Yard sans public input.

“We also want to make sure to educate the neighborhoods on what good, smart density and development is, and how it can be an asset to everyone,” Seekely said.

From May 8 through May 11, Lord Aeck Sargent will host a pop-up design studio at the Lang Carson Community Center, where interested stakeholders can meet the architects and weigh in on the potential fate of Hulsey Yard.