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After sale to a developer, city of Atlanta moves to make Pullman Yard a landmark site

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After sale to a developer, city of Atlanta moves to make Pullman Yard a landmark site

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The city of Atlanta is moving forward with plans to designate Kirkwood’s Pratt-Pullman Yard as a landmark site following the state’s decision to sell it to an entertainment company.

City officials intended to begin this process in November, but backed away from that idea under pressure by the property’s owner, the Georgia Building Authority, which said the state was immune to any actions taken by the city.

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But now that the property is in the hands of a private company, Atomic Entertainment, the city has decided to move forward with the proposal.

Adam Rosenfelt with Atomic Entertainment declined to comment about the city’s push to give the property landmark status.

According to the city, Atlanta Urban Design Commission Executive Director Doug Young began the nomination process on June 20, days after the sale of the property closed. Atomic Entertainment purchased the property for $8 million. There will be a public hearing on the nomination on July 12 at 4 p.m. at the Atlanta City Hall council chamber. If the city’s Urban Design Commission moves forward with the nomination, it could create another series of hurdles for the potential development of the property.

“If the commission nominates the property for the landmark site designation, the measure will go through the city’s regular procedure for all zoning papers,” a press release from the city says. “That process includes another public hearing before the Zoning Review Board. It must also receive a recommendation from the Zoning Committee and final designation action from the Atlanta City Council.”

Because the city has issued a “notice of intent” to nominate the property, the property can not be developed for 180 days unless it is approved by the Office of Design’s Historic Preservation staff. That means, “no alterations, renovations, additions, new construction, demolition or site work.”

“This is a giant leap forward in our quest to preserve such a unique piece of our city’s history,” City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong said. “I am pleased that a process is underway to allow for the preservation of the buildings at the Pratt-Pullman Yard. Some of the buildings on this property are more than 100 years old and today serve as a testament to Atlanta’s railroading history and to contributions made by African-American workers.”

According to the city, in 1922 the Pratt-Pullman Yard was “a major employer” that actively recruited black workers from the ranks of local porters and car cleaners.

“The company became one of the largest employers of African-Americans in the country,” a press release from the city says.

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 the years leading up to the sale, it had become a popular filming location. Atomic Entertainment has proposed building a film studio on the site.

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