Pending sale of Pullman Yard scrutinized by Kirkwood Neighborhood Association

By David Pendered

The state’s plan to sell Pullman Yard without any requirements to preserve any of the 11 buildings or land has prompted the Kirkwood Neighborhood Association to begin an effort to have historic conditions applied to the property before it is sold.

A crowd of about 50 individuals attended a rally Tuesday to urge the state to require any buyer of Pullman Yard to preserve buildings and Hardee Creek. Credit: Kelly Jordan

A crowd of about 50 individuals attended a rally Tuesday to urge the state to require any buyer of Pullman Yard to preserve buildings and Hardee Creek. Credit: Kelly Jordan

The association voted Tuesday to have its board of directors write a letter asking the state to apply historic preservation stipulations.

The board met at its routine monthly meeting hours after a crowd of about 50 persons gathered at the Pullman Yard site. Some displayed handmade signs asking the state to protect the site’s historic nature.

Known by two names, Pullman Yard and Pratt Pullman Yard, the 28-acre site once was an industrial plant. Pratt Engineering Co. bought the site in 1904 to build a manufacturing plant for sugar and fertilizer, according to state records. Pullman Co. bought the site in 1922 and converted it to facility to repair its Pullman rail cars.

Georgia bought the site in 1990 and used it to maintain a passenger excursion train the state operated for a few years before closing it during the economic slowdown of the early 1990s.

The exact language of the resolution the KNO adopted is still being perfected. It is to track the following wording:

  • “We authorize the board to incorporate some of the communications they have into a single document regarding the preservation of the Kraft Pullman historic site.”
pullman yard, 1

Five warehouses at Pullman Yard were built in 1915 of concrete block and brick, according to DeKalb County tax records. Credit: File

One member of the association suggested that the letter be delivered to the state before Jan. 18. That’s the date of a bidders conference. Representatives from the State Properties Commission, the Georgia Building Authority and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division will be available to field questions, according to the Invitation to Bid released by GBA.

Tina Davis, KNO president, said the letter won’t be ready until February. Davis said the letter will be drafted and brought back for a vote by the KNO members at its Feb. 10 meeting.

The clock is ticking. April 4 is the deadline for bids and the state intends to open submissions that day, according to the bid package.

Evidently, a number of protest letters are circulating. The board is to synthesize elements of these letters into a single document.

One version begins by welcoming the potential buyer to Kirkwood. The tone changes:

  • “[I]t is important for you as potential purchases and developers of this parcel to be aware of issues we have with the State of Georgia’s management of this site.
  • These issues will not pass with the sale of the property and indeed will become requirements for what follows in the transformation of this historical site, changes with great potential for conventional development coupled with adaptive re-use.
  • “These requirements include:

    Historic preservation advocates wants assurances that buildings and land at Pullman Yard will be preserved after the state sells the site. Credit: Kelly Jordan

    Historic preservation advocates wants assurances that buildings and land at Pullman Yard will be preserved after the state sells the site. Credit: Kelly Jordan

  • “1. Implementation of protections for the core Pratt Pullman historic structures, part of a contributing property to the significant 2008 National Register of Historic Places Kirkwood Historic District.
  • “2. Engagement with the Kirkwood community and Neighborhood Planning Unit O regarding the site, its sale, and relevant protections and development goals that meet the community’s needs.
  • “3. Recognition of and implementation of protections for the headwaters and buffer of historic Hardee Creek, an element of the Ocmulgee River watershed.
  • “We also ask you to review the community’s more specific guidelines for development of the Pratt Pullman Yard. These follow and were first developed in 2007 and updated at intervals, most recently 2016. These are the standards by which the community will measure any development proposal. It is important to remember that in the city of Atlanta any changes in land use, zoning, and indeed any substantive development are formally oversighted by the impacted neighborhood and neighborhood planning unit. This includes related issues such as preservation, transportation, greenspaces and watershed.”

The site currently is zoning for heavy industry, according to the state.

Atlanta’s city code providers for I-2 industrial sites to provide a number of businesses, including bars and restaurants and adult businesses; offices and clinics, including veterinary; trade schools; and market gardens.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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