UPDATE: Nonprofit, developer push competing plans for Pullman Yard

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 1, 2015
The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

One of Kirkwood’s most iconic buildings is also one of its biggest challenges.

The Georgia Building Authority currently owns the Pratt-Pullman Yard and hasn’t put the property on the market. It’s being leased to film companies, its vacant buildings serving as a backdrop for apocalyptic films like “The Hunger Games.”

Last year, the Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization and the Neighborhood Planning Unit both endorsed a proposal from Pullman Historic Development LLC to redevelop the historic property into a mixed use development that includes town homes, recreational space, offices, and restaurants.

Now a local nonprofit, Atlanta ContactPoint, is pushing its vision for the 25 acre site. Atlanta ContactPoint is proposing multi-purpose sports fields. The nonprofit is also pushing office space rentals, arts and greenhouse spaces.

Both proposals would seek to preserve the historic structures on the Pullman Yard site.

 

ContactPoint has scheduled a series of meetings to present their vision to the public. The first will be on May 21 at Le Petit Marche in Kirkwood at 7 pm. There will also be a presentation on May 23 at 11 am at the Bessie Branham Recreation Center at 2051 Delano Drive Northeast.

David Epstein, executive director for Atlanta ContactPoint, said that his group would raise the money to purchase the property. He also argued that a developer would have to spend so much upgrading infrastructure at the site that they wouldn’t be able to make a compelling offer to GBA to buy the property.

“We feel confident that whatever the developer would be offering the state is not a whole lot of money,” he said. “There’s a lot of things a developer would have to do.”

The group also has the support of Dante Stephenson, owner of the famous Dante’s Down the Hatch restaurant. Curbed Atlanta reports that Stephenson has offered to donate a 1915 Pullman Lounge car to Atlanta ContactPoint.

Real estate investor Stan Sugarman, one of the partners in Pullman Historic Development, said that the group will have to raise a considerable amount if it wants to buy the property from GBA. He said restoring the historic buildings on the site would cost $15 million. Adding water, sewer, lighting and turf would increase the cost to $35 million to $40 million, he said.

“I can’t afford to do it (on my own),” Sugarman said. “I have equity partners we’ve worked with in the past. You’re talking some major dollars.”

Epstein believes there would be enough money available through fundraising to make a credible offer.

“If you look at all the money given and raised toward sports, physical education, nutritional education and the arts, you have the recipe to be able to raise whatever you need,” he said.

Decaturish has left a message with the Georgia Building Authority to see if there are any plans to put the property back on the market in the near future. This story will be updated if GBA responds.

Epstein said even though the property is not on the market, his group intends to approach the board directly.

“The Georgia building authority is board run they can make a decision via the board,” he said.

Sugarman says his development company is also trying to get GBA to put the property back on the market.

“We’re working with the city of Atlanta and the state agencies to expedite the process of getting the state to sell it,” he said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story referred to the Pullman Historic Development proposal a town home development. PHD provided additional information about what their mixed-use proposal – which includes town homes – would entail. The information has been added to this article. 

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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