Atlanta may designate Pullman Yard an historic site to regulate any redevelopment

By David Pendered

Atlanta is taking steps to protect the historic integrity of a property best known as Pullman Yard. It’s a collection of 11 commercial buildings located on the largest single tract of land in the rapidly redeveloping Kirkwood neighborhood, east of Little Five Points.

Pullman Yard, 1a

Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission may designate Pullman Yard as an historic landmark and site, which would increase the city’s ability to control any redevelopment on the 27-acre site where the oldest buildings date to 1915. Credit: pinterest.com

There’s no indication the 26.8-acre site is currently in play.

The state owns the property. It’s a rectangle of land at 225 Rogers St. that abuts the east side of Rogers Street and, to the north, abuts the CSX tracks that flank DeKalb Avenue. DeKalb County’s tax commissioner has set its value at $7.4 million.

The site is not listed as being for sale by the State Properties Commission, which buys and sells land on behalf of Georgia. The property was not discussed at the only meeting of the SPC board held this year, on June 23, according to minutes of the meeting.

The property has been out of use since the state closed in 1993 an oil-fired steam-engine excursion train it had housed there. Georgia ran the sightseeing train for seven years, before ending it to save money during the recession of the early 1990s.

The site has been the subject of several redevelopment efforts since the state bought it in 1990 for almost $1.7 million, according to DeKalb County tax records.

Pullman Yard, 225 Rogers St.

Georgia purchased Pullman Yard in 1990 to service an excursion train it shuttered in 1993 to cut expenses. Credit: mapquest.com

The latest effort unfolded in 2015, when a group floated plans to build indoor and outdoor sports facilities, according to a report in atlanta.curbed.com.

Now, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission is considering a proposal to designate the buildings and the entire site as a Landmark Building/Site. The proposed name is the Pratt-Pullman Building Landmark Building/Site.

Such a designation would not preclude redevelopment, according to the relevant Atlanta municipal code. The designation would create a number of administrative hurdles that a redevelopment plan would have to overcome.

For example, if an owner wants to demolish a building and the UDC thinks it should be preserved, the UDC could recommend to the mayor that the city buy the property or acquire it through eminent domain. The recommendation is not binding on the mayor, according to the city code.

Pullman Yard, map

Pullman Yard is located in Atlanta in DeKalb County, an area that is being redeveloped rapidly with homes and shops. Credit: DeKalb County, David Pendered

Further, the owner can appeal any ruling by the UDC to Fulton County Superior Court, according to the city code. An applicant could appeal a ruling from this court to a higher court.

In the case of the Pullman Yard, the nomination for landmark status was initiated by Doug Young, the UDC’s executive director. Young did not return a phone call Monday.

The UDC is slated to consider the nomination at its meeting Nov. 21. The UDC originally was scheduled to consider the case at its Nov. 9 meeting. At that time, the staff recommended the commission defer the case to Nov. 21.

The UDC staff has yet to post its recommendation on the nomination.

In many cases, by this point in time the staff would have provided its analysis of a proposal to build on or alter a site. The analysis would list relevant city codes, advise of comments from neighbors, analyze the information, and recommend the application be approved, denied, or deferred to allow further negotiations.

DeKalb’s tax records show the property has 11 commercial buildings. Ten are warehouses and one is an office building. Here are the details:

Pullman Yard, 2

The warehouses built in 1915 of brick and concrete block range in quality from average plus to poor, according to DeKalb County tax records. Credit: pinterest.com

  • Warehouse; 1915; 1,769 square feet; concrete block; quality grade is average plus.
  • Warehouse; 1915; 1,312 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is average plus.
  • Warehouse; 1915; 13,786 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is average plus.
  • Warehouse; 1915; 70,656 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1915; 19,936 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1964; 7,800 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is poor.
  • Office building; 1964; 2,400 square feet; concrete block and brick; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1966; 19,760 square feet; metal, light; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1966; 4,800 square feet; metal, light; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1969; 9,400 square feet; metal, light; quality grade is poor.
  • Warehouse; 1981; 4,940 square feet; metal, light; quality grade is poor.

 

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.

11 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    These are empty words since Atlanta City and Fulton County have no control over State property. It’s the principle of sovereign immunity.Report

    Reply
  2. dejesam says:

    Atlanta ContactPoint has teamed up with 2 extremely well qualified developers as well as a dozen non profits to create a vision for a for profit/non-profit mixed use development of Pullman Yard. The plans are inline with the Community Development Plan mentioned above. The main goals of the plan are to preserve the historic buildings, create green space for community use, AND alleviate heavy traffic. With a dozen well known and respected non profit organizations on site, there will be dozens of opportunities for the community to engage in programs teaching about nature, farming, environmental awareness, health/wellness, and more. The woodland area will be open the public as well. If you care to read more about the plans and see the money behind this vision then please click here: http://www.atlcp.org/pullman-yard/Neither group will be able to compete with the BIG BOX developers if the state puts the property out to highest bid. We are hoping the city gets involved and sees the benefits of creating a model of historic preservation and health/wellness for the surrounding communities. This is a state property, lets hope it can go to best use and value for the people, and not just highest dollar value.Report

    Reply
  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    I would love to watch the City presume to impose its will on the State over this property, particularly to acquire it by eminent domain. It would be a huge spectacle of lawyers huffing and puffing.Report

    Reply

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