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Petition seeks preservation of Kirkwood’s Pullman Yard

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Petition seeks preservation of Kirkwood’s Pullman Yard

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood is up for sale, but there’s no requirement that the purchaser preserve any of the historic buildings on the site. There’s also no public input process.

An online petition put forth by a preservation advocate aims to deal with both aspects of the controversial sale.

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Charles Lawrence, founder of the Atlanta Preservation Alliance, has started an online petition suggesting the Pullman Yard’s owner, the Georgia Building Authority, may be legally required to consider preservation of the site.  Lawrence has worked with one group, Pullman Historic Development LLC, that has floated a proposal to develop the site by preserving the existing structures. Atlanta ContactPoint, which is promoting a competing proposal that originally suggested turning the site into multi-purpose fields, office space and greenhouse space, has sent an email to its supporters urging them to sign the petition.

ContactPoint says it has since changed its concept. It is now moving away from sports fields and is concentrating on health and wellness, environmental and agricultural education.

“The petition is not about any particular development plan,” the email says. “It is to make sure the buildings are preserved.”

The petition says the Georgia Environmental Policy Act requires the state to be stewards of “cultural and historical resources.”

“We the undersigned hold that the Geogia Building Authority is required by Georgia law to consider the effects of their sale of the Pratt Pullman on the historic site and further, that it is the GBA’s responsibility to pursue an option that places a priority on the preservation of the historic buildings and features of the site,” the petition says. “We believe that this would be best achived through the inclusion of deed restrictions, preservation easements, or covenants in the legal sale of the property.”

The petition also includes contact info for GBA officials and the governor.

Representatives of the GBA have declined to comment on the proposed sale.

In late November the Atlanta Urban Design Commission backed away from a proposal that would’ve given Kirkwood’s Pullman Yard landmark status. The state pressured the Urban Design Commission to drop its proposal, saying it was immune to any actions taken by the city to preserve the structure. The minimum bid is $5.6 million.

According to the bid documents, The Pratt-Pullman Yard – originally farmland purchased in 1904 by the Pratt Engineering Company for a sugar and fertilizer processing plant – was used for munitions manufacturing during World War I. It was purchased in 1922 by the Pullman Passenger Rail Company and used as a rail car service and repair facility. Southern Iron and Equipment Company used it from 1955 to the 1970’s. The facility was closed after the federal court order split up the Pullman Passenger Rail Company. Georgia Power used the facility for its fleet of Trackless Trolleys, a name for electric buses. The Georgia Building Authority bought the property in 1990. It was briefly used as part of the New Georgia Railroad, a dinner train running from Underground Atlanta to Stone Mountain. In recent years, it has become a popular filming location.

Here is a copy of the letter the state sent to the UDC outlining the state’s position that it does not acknowledge the city’s legal authority to nominate the property as a landmark.

GBA-Letter-to-UDC (1)

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