Purpose Built adds Atlanta’s Grove Park to its national network

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta-based Purpose Built Communities will partner with a new Grove Park neighborhood organization to revive a community in the same way the founders of the nonprofit have revitalized East Lake and areas around the country.

The Grove Park Foundation, a newly-formed nonprofit that grew out of the Emerald Corridor Foundation, joins the East Lake Foundation as the second Atlanta-based member of the Purpose Built Communities Network.

The Grove Park Foundation will serve as the community quarterback for a holistic initiative in the Grove Park neighborhood in Northwest Atlanta.

Grove Park school and YMCA

A rendering of Grove Park’s new school and YMCA (Image provided by Purpose Built Communities)

It already has developed strong partnerships with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, and several arts organizations to bring an A+ school, a new YMCA facility and new housing options for all income levels to the Grove Park neighborhood, with a particular focus on preserving and expanding affordability.

“With Atlanta in the midst of a real estate boom, particularly on the west side, it is imperative that we work in partnership with the community to preserve and expand high-quality affordable housing options and make long-term investments in children and families, specifically in education, health and economic well-being,” said Debra Edelson, executive director of the Grove Park Foundation, in a statement.

“The launch of the Grove Park Foundation and our inclusion in the Purpose Built Communities Network is the culmination of several years of work with community members and partners to improve quality of life across the board for the families and children of the neighborhood, and we are hopeful about Grove Park’s future,” Edelson added.

David Edwards, CEO of Purpose Built Communities, said the network now has projects in 17 cities across the country.

“We are thrilled to include another neighborhood in Atlanta, where our work began more than 20 years ago,” Edwards said. “We believe our model is a great fit for Grove Park, which will preserve housing affordability and make critical investments to break the cycle of poverty, creating a neighborhood environment where people of all income levels can afford a place to live and thrive.”

Purpose Built was founded by developer Tom Cousins, who wanted to replicate the success of the East Lake transformation to communities around the country. The Foundation has three investors – Cousins, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Julian Robertson, a money fund manager.

“Over the past few years, Debra and her team have been heavily engaged and involved in the Grove Park neighborhood,” said Karen Rose, president of the Grove Park Neighborhood Association. “We are already seeing results with the coming investments in a new, high-quality public school and a YMCA, and this is just the beginning.”

In 2018, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools will commence the design and construction process in tandem on a new Woodson Park Academy campus in Grove Park. The Atlanta Board of Education selected KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools to be the school’s high-quality K-8 partner operator beginning in school year 2019-2020.

The YMCA will operate a preschool that will serve children and families from the community and prepare them to enter Woodson Park Academy.  Atlanta Public Schools is providing $18.5 million towards the cost of the new school’s construction, which will open in the 2020-2021 school year.

The Grove Park Foundation and YMCA are raising all remaining funds to complete the construction program. Over the next several years, the Grove Park Foundation and its partners have plans to make $50 million of additional investments in the neighborhood in mixed-income housing, education, arts and economic development.

“The YMCA of Metro Atlanta is thrilled to partner with the Grove Park Foundation on this bold new initiative,” said Ed Munster, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Atlanta. “Our organization has two decades of experience with the Purpose Built Communities model from our work with the East Lake Foundation and Drew Charter School, and we are looking forward to that experience benefitting the residents of Grove Park.”

The Grove Park Foundation is committed to a long-term effort to achieve an equitable and sustainable transformation that preserves and builds community with a cradle-to-college education pipeline, affordable and mixed income housing, and community health and wellness programs and facilities, following the Purpose Built Communities model.

Building on the neighborhood’s strengths and needs, Grove Park Foundation is also building partnerships and attracting investment around the arts, affordable health care and bringing a “main street” economy back to life along the Donald Lee Hollowell corridor.

The ultimate goal is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by creating wide, durable channels out of poverty for low-income residents.

“The Grove Park Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of the residents of the Grove Park neighborhood,” said Leonard Murray, chairman of the newly-formed Grove Park Foundation. “We are grateful for this best-in-class set of partners that have joined this effort, beginning with the national expertise of Purpose Built Communities, and our talented local partners the YMCA, KIPP and APS.”

Grove Park Foundation Board of Directors:

ASHLEY CARSON

Corporate and Community Affairs Executive, Atlantic Capital Bank

JASON K. EDWARDS

Founder and principal investor, Providence Realty Investors

DEBRA A. EDELSON
Executive Director, Grove Park Foundation
BRIAN C. FRIEDMAN

Wellspring Associates

DANIEL GURA

Director of Capital Markets and Financial Systems, Habitat for Humanity International

CHERYL HAAS

Partner, McGuireWoods LLP

DR. CHARLES A. HARPER, III

Pastor, Paradise Missionary Baptist Church

WILLIAM LAMBE

Senior community and economic development adviser, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

DAVID MOODY

CEO and owner, C.D. Moody Construction Company

LEONARD MURRAY
Chairman of the Board, Grove Park Foundation

Managing Partner and co-founder of Zion Consulting Group

MARLENA NORRIS

Principal and founder of The Laundry Club

LAURA HEERY PROZES

co-founder of Brookwood Group, Inc., Owner and Managing Principal of Brookwood Design Group LLC

DENISE QUARLES

Chief City Executive, Siemens

GRACE RAYMOND

Music Executive

LATRESA MCLAWHORN RYAN

Vice President and Client Manager, SunTrust Bank Foundations and Endowments Specialty Practice

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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