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City lawmakers press CSX to keep public interest in mind with potential Hulsey Yard sale

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The railroad giant ceased operations at the massive eastside Atlanta site in May, prompting neighbors to craft a redevelopment vision

The cleared-out Hulsey Yard seems to stretch on for miles, looking like a concrete desert.
The 70-acre blank palette that is Hulsey Yard.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

The fate of the massive rail yard cutting through four eastside Atlanta neighborhoods is still undecided, but local lawmakers want to ensure the site’s eventual redevelopment is carried out in a way that keeps neighbors’ needs at the forefront.

In May, railroad giant CSX Transportation ceased freight operations at Hulsey Yard, a more than 70-acre property that divides parts of Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown.

A collective of Hulsey Yard neighbors has been working with architects to help plot the potential future of the site as they’d like to see it, aiming for a mixed-use community packed with dense development, trees, and transit, among other aspects.

This week, Atlanta City Councilmembers have drafted legislation that seeks to encourage CSX to “consider the future needs of the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Beltline, and the surrounding community as they begin the process for the sale of Hulsey Yard.”

Spearheaded by councilmembers Natalyn Archibong, Carla Smith, and Amir Farokhi, the resolution notes that “it is critical for CSX to consider potential buyers who will incorporate the vision of the adjacent communities of Hulsey Yard.”

It also nods to the site’s importance as a crucial element for a future light rail line along the Beltline’s Eastside Trail.

Archibong told Curbed Atlanta in a recent interview the mission of the proposal is to “put CSX on notice” about the ambitious redevelopment plan the Hulsey Yard Study Committee has whipped up.

“I think it’s important for CSX to be aware that there’s a vision for the yard in the event that it’s sold, so rather than being caught flat-footed ... I thought it would be appropriate to give them the information as they move forward and figure out what they’re going to do,” she said.

Essentially, neighbors don’t want a hulking shopping district catered toward drivers—a la Atlantic Station—rising at the whim of dispassionate developers.

The resolution is currently in the hands of the council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee, but Archibong said she expects it could be adopted by the full council as soon as next month.

If passed, a copy of the legislation would be forwarded to officials with CSX, the Beltline, Invest Atlanta, and the city’s departments of planning and transportation.

After that, city leaders could move toward adopting the study committee’s masterplan, which would put extra pressure on any would-be developers to keep the community’s suggestions at the forefront of their plans.

“When Atlanta Gaslight decided to sell their property, which is now the Edgewood Retail District, they met with neighbors and asked, ‘What is your vision?’” Archibong said. “And they worked with neighbors to bring that vision to reality.”

Still, though, it’s unclear what CSX is planning for Hulsey Yard; the railroad company has not responded to Curbed’s recent inquiries about a potential sale, and officials have declined to answer questions about their goals in the past.