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Renderings: Atlanta designer has a vision for Hulsey Yard’s future, but is it viable?

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Neighborhood leaders have enlisted an architecture firm to build a dream for the site. This is an alternate take

A black and white sketch of the Hulsey Lake, a new water feature that would neighbor a retail building.
Imagine the serenity of...Hulsey Lake.
Images: Robert White

Over the past few months, architecture firm Lord Aeck Sargent, with the input of people from Eastside Trail neighborhoods, has been crafting a masterplan for the redevelopment of massive Hulsey Yard.

This isn't it.

In May, the 70-acre railroad depot was cleared of its freight cars, prompting residents of Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown to enlist the Atlanta-based architecture firm to create a (very) tentative vision for the site’s potential redevelopment.

While neighborhood leaders pour tens of thousands of dollars into expert redesigns, other locals have taken it upon themselves to concoct a blueprint for the property, which, interestingly enough, is still not for sale.

Robert White, an intown interior designer with Reiner-White Design, this week sent Curbed Atlanta drawings that outline a dream for the mammoth rail car depot.

A blueprint for the whole 70-acre property, cut into “micro-districts”

“Atlanta has an opportunity at it’s doorstep, a chance to become and grow into one of the most incredible cities in this country,” he said. “And although we’ve capitalized on that opportunity to an extent, there are so many areas of town that are begging for a creative vision.”

His sketches, created with the help of Atlanta realtor Maximillian Corwell, illustrate an ambitious dream for what could become of the CSX Transportation property that neighbors have been drooling over for years—since long before the site became a veritable no man's land.

Imagine, White proposes, a new mixed-use development that features, among other things, abundant water features, retail and dining galore, and a boutique hotel concept.

A sketch of a large green space neighbored by retail
“Hulsey Lawn” would rival Piedmont Park as a prominent intown green space.

“The new frontier of Hulsey Yard is possibly the largest and most important piece of a much larger puzzle,” White said. “It represents the keystone that connects multiple, thriving neighborhoods in Atlanta’s ever-popular southeastern burroughs”

White said he’d attended Lord Aeck Sargent’s pop-up events in Reynoldstown, and that he appreciates the work the architects have been doing to help the community reimagine CSX’s land.

He also came away thinking he could bring his own creative flair to the mix.

A sketch of the Hulsey River district, which would bring retail and residences to a complex over a waterway.
The “Hulsey River” would have retail, dining, and residences.

White sliced the property up into small “micro-districts” that he said would “embrace historical elements of the surrounding neighborhoods, but offer a cutting-edge look at how we really live.”

That came in the form of “The Mill Village,” “Hulsey Lake,” “Hulsey River,” “Container Row,” and more.

“I think we have the opportunity to do something that we’ll be proud of for centuries,” White said. “We could be creating a landmark, not just another Target plaza with lifeless apartment buildings and mattress stores.”

A sketch of “Container Row,” which would, of course, repurpose shipping containers, paying homage to Hulsey Yard’s past use. It would be used as an affordable district of retail, office, and gallery space. It would also be bisected by a Beltline trail.
“Container Row” would, of course, repurpose shipping containers, paying homage to Hulsey Yard’s past use. It would be used as an affordable district of retail, office, and gallery space. It would also be bisected by a Beltline trail leg.
A sketch of “Reynoldstown Village,” which would feature small businesses, cafes, and more, with a Beltline path running straight through it.
“Reynoldstown Village” would feature small businesses, cafes, and more, with the Beltline running straight through it.