By Maria Saporta
An affordable arts community will be bringing new life to the historic George Adair School in the Adair Park neighborhood in southwest Atlanta.
The Creatives Project, an arts nonprofit, has joined forces with local developers Stryant Investments and Building Insights Inc. to offer affordable housing to artists and people in the creative industries. The project is being called the Academy Lofts Adair Park.
Neda Abghari, executive director of the Creatives Project, said the concept is the first of its kind in the City of Atlanta.
“The Academy Lofts Adair Park endeavors to become a symbol of neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and community engagement through the establishment of a live/work atmosphere to support creative and cultural enthusiasts from throughout the region, she wrote in an email.
The Adair School was originally constructed in 1912, and it is located only a block from the recently completed portion of the Atlanta Beltline trail. The property has been vacant since 1973 and has deteriorated significantly due to roof leaks over the last 10 years.
The redevelopment of the Adair School got caught in the crosshairs of a dispute between the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Board of Education over which entity should have title of the property. The sale of the building to Stryant was held up for more than a year until after the city and APS resolved their differences.
The plan for redevelopment includes 35 affordable micro-units for live/work space targeting creatives and artists, 5,000 square feet of loft office tailored to small businesses and studio workspace, a revamped 3,800 square foot auditorium re-purposed for an art gallery and community event space and a 1,300 square foot coffee shop.
“Our vision for the site is a historic redevelopment focused on arts and community engagement where creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs will live, work, and interact both internally among each other, and externally within the Adair Park neighborhood, and the City of Atlanta at large,” Atticus LeBlanc with Styvant Investments said in a release. “This building was constructed at the heart of a beautiful community, across from a gorgeous park, and has been a blight for a long time. We’d like to reactivate it so that the structure at the center of this neighborhood can actually become a neighborhood center.”
The concept will provide affordable rental units that include creative amenities such as studio access, classrooms and gallery space to foster creative growth and innovation. In addition, those living and working on site will offer classes, workshops, and seminars, and engage in collaborative and community-based projects.
With a lack of affordable housing options at an all-time high, we are extremely excited to create “ART-FORCE” housing to support our city’s burgeoning arts community while enabling Atlanta to retain its creative talents,” Abghari wrote in the email.
“The Academy will serve as a backdrop for deep conversations about place and community enrichment via arts and culture initiatives while allowing residents time and space to develop new bodies of work, and opportunities for peer collaboration.”
The developers bought the property in June of this year, and the property was rezoned for the concept in July. The redevelopment has already been awarded $1.5 million in funding through Invest Atlanta’s Housing Opportunity Bond Program.
The funding will help maintain long term affordability, and will also leverage historic tax credits. The team also has been in negotiations with several financial institutions, and it plans to connect with additional funding partners so the redevelopment can be completed by the first quarter of 2019.