For years, neighbors of the massive rail yard sprawling between Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown have been spitballing ways to reimagine the property, in the hope that owner CSX Transportation might one day decide to sell.
CSX teased the idea years ago, but as of late, the 70-acre Hulsey Yard has been nothing but bustling—with nothing but railroad transport activity, mere feet from the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail.
Until now, that is.
As spotted by neighboring residents in recent days, the rail hub, which is typically sardine-packed with shipping crates, is practically empty.
“I’ve seen the yard go from over 2,000 containers to less than 20,” said Cabbagetown resident Kyle Bidlack. “I’ve heard the noise pollution go from omnipresent to almost nonexistent.”
Many neighbors believe this could be the prelude to an upcoming sale. And the scuttlebutt has at least some factual basis.
Reinforcing the rumor that the railroad giant intends to unload the colossal property, Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, told customers in April that cargo would be going through a different yard.
“CSX recently announced that, effective April 15, 2019, international rail cargo will be handled through their newly expanded Fairburn facility instead of their Atlanta Hulsey ramp,” according to a letter Maersk sent customers.
“For cargo originating or terminating at the Atlanta rail ramp and moving to the ports of Savannah, Charleston, or North Charleston, you need to select Atlanta—Fairburn,” the letter continued.
CSX confirmed the move in a statement emailed to Curbed Atlanta.
“The change will greatly increase the efficiency of CSX’s intermodal operations in the region and support further improvements in the company’s service to intermodal customers,” a CSX spokesperson said. “CSX remains committed to serving Atlanta-area intermodal customers, as demonstrated by the company’s major investment in Fairburn Terminal improvements, along with our ongoing service improvements. Our immediate plans are to safely secure the Hulsey terminal as we determine the best use for the property.”
This should come as a welcome signal to members of the Hulsey Yard Study Committee, which recently launched a fundraising campaign to help pay architecture firm Lord Aeck Sargent to preemptively create a masterplan for the property.
CSX did tell Saporta Report in March 2018 it “has no plans to vacate Hulsey Yard.” But that was a year ago, and much can change in Atlanta—especially in regards to Beltline-adjacent property—in a year.
Neighbors who’ve participated in a survey about what should become of the rail yard have overwhelmingly said they want green space to be part of what would likely turn into a major mixed-use development.
Lord Aeck Sargent will be hosting a pop-up design studio at the Lang Carson Community Center from May 8 through May 11, allowing stakeholders to meet architects and weigh in on the potential fate of Hulsey Yard.
This story was updated on May 5, 2019 at 12:07 p.m. to include a statement provided by CSX.