Pullman Yard’s trees, terrain may receive extra protection from Atlanta

By David Pendered

Pullman Yard would be covered by enhanced environmental preservation provisions under legislation pending Tuesday before the Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee.

Pullman Yard, trees, toomer elementary school

A 10-acre stand of trees at Pullman Yard abuts Toomer Elementary School. The Atlanta City Council may seek to protect the trees and terrain of a portion of the property. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

The legislation would add four provisions to Atlanta’s Comprehensive Development Plan, which the council adopted Nov. 21, 2016. All local governments are required by state law to adopt a CDP. Atlanta’s practice is to update its CDP every three to five years.

The legislation would amend the CDP to add the following provisions to one address, 225 Rogers St., which is that of Pullman Yard. The following statements would be added under the category of Neighborhood Planning Units Policies:

“Under Principles:

  • “Add: Protect the forest canopy, natural terrain and steep slopes of the designated green space zone at 225 Rogers Street.

“Under Policy:

Georgia moved quickly to sell Pullman Yard after a bucketful of sky rockets ignited inside a warehouse at Pullman Yard during a celebration July 4, 2016. The resulting fire burnt a hole through a portion of the roof. File/Credit: GBA

Georgia moved quickly to sell Pullman Yard after a bucketful of sky rockets ignited inside a warehouse at Pullman Yard during a celebration July 4, 2016. The resulting fire burnt a hole through a portion of the roof. File/Credit: GBA

  • “Add: Promote greenspace use at the designated green space zone at 225 Rogers Street

“Under Development Plan Zones/Green Zone to existing information add:

  • “a) The intent of the green space is to conserve and protect the forest canopy (an old growth remnant forest with young and mature trees and intact plant communities) and the lower elevations between the western steep slopes and the stream [natural terrain] for passive recreational uses and as an upper watershed buffer to protect Hardee Creek;
  • “b) The boundaries of the greenspace zone are representative of the green space (non­ development zone) with an area of approximately 8 acres and an approximate width of 300 east to west). The western boundary of the green space zone (abutting the future development area) is defined by the east face of the southernmost historic building going due south to the south to the southern property line.”

Atlanta City councilmembers Natalyn Archibong and Carla Smith co-sponsored the legislation. The paper is on the agenda of the council’s Community Development Committee, which is scheduled to convene Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in Committee Room 1, on the second floor of Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave.

Pullman Yard, buildings

The state intends to sell Pullman Yard for likely redevelopment as a mixed use project. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

Archibong chairs the committee. If the committee approves the paper Tuesday, it could be scheduled for a vote by the full city council as early as May 1. The paper cites three stated purposes:

  • “WHEREAS, the Kirkwood Neighborhood Organization (KNO) has expressed a desire to clari references regarding the weste boundary of the greenspace in the green space zone designated in the 2016 City of Atlanta/Kirkwood Community Development Plan (2016 CDP); and
  • “WHEREAS, KNO would like to amend the CDP language to ensure that fuure development is adequately buffered with green space, the negative impact on Warren Street is limited, and the forest canopy is protected; and
  • “WHEREAS, the 2011 “Pullman Yard- Community Development Priorities document includes a clear focus on conservation of greenspace, passive use and stream protection.”

This may be the first of several steps the city may take to protect the flora and old buildings at Pullman Yard.

Pullman Yards

Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission could reconsider a shelved plan to 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. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

For starters, once the property is privately owned, Atlanta can take action to protect the existing buildings. The city’s Urban Design Commission withdrew a proposal to extend historic building/site status to the property in a method that allows the UDC to reconsider the classification.

The Georgia Building Authority on April 19 reportedly selected a buyer – Atomic Entertainment LLC. Paul Melvin, communications director for the State Properties Commission, did not return a telephone message seeking comment. The SPC acted as the GBA’s agent in the sale of Pullman Yard.

Atomic Entertainment, based in Los Angeles-based, offered $8 million and a proposal to create a mixed use project anchored by a movie studio. The company provided cashiers checks totaling $240,000 in earnest money.

A local joint venture also bid $8 million and it offered a proposal to build a mixed use development with a specific plan to preserve old buildings and much of the greenspace. The JV of Fabric Developers and Civitas House Group provided cashiers checks totaling $120,000 in earnest money. The JV is headed by two long-time developers – Jerry Miller and Bruce Gunter.

Each of the three other bids was for a sum at or slightly higher than the state’s minimum of $5.6 million – $5.6 million, $5.65 million and $5.7 million, according to state records.


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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