The Local Take: Westside development with Maria Saporta of SaportaReport

This interview originally aired on The Local Take on April 1, 2017.

This week on The Local Take I speak with Maria Saporta founder of Saporta Report, an in depth journalistic news service with a focus on metro-Atlanta. I speak with Maria about several recent reports on the Westside including her conversations with Authur Blank (Owner Atlanta Falcons) and Dan Cathy (Owner Chick-Fil-A). She shares with our listeners her reporting on the Westside redevelopment master plan that was led by Dhiru Thadani and a project involving the Atlanta University Center and the Federal Government to address flooding on the Westside.

As a native of Atlanta, Maria also shares her desires for the Westside including the former Paschal’s Hotel and the Herndon Home. She explains that change is coming and that residents should harness the change to benefit the community as well as the city. 

Listen to the full interview here:

For our listeners who are interested in learning more click here to subscribe to the Saporta Report.



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Four civic giants work to improve Metro Atlanta education


Learn4Life leaders: Milton Little, Ann Cramer, Alicia Philipp, Ken Zeff and Doug Hooker

Original story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Four regional organizations – the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta – are collaborating on an educational effort called Learn4Life. The goal is to bring the eight public school systems in Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties to improve public education in the region.

It makes all the sense in the world.

Metro Atlanta has so many local governments, it’s often hard to develop a regional mindset on dealing with the myriad of issues that affect Greater Atlanta.

There are county governments, cities – old and new – as well as the numerous school systems.

Yet when it comes to the outside world, people see this whole region as one entity: Atlanta.

Having these four major civic organizations working together on a regional mandate could help build cooperation and avenues for our companies, nonprofits and local governments to work more closely together to tackle issues that bleed beyond our political boundaries.

The executives of the four organizations have been meeting for nearly three years to build trust and partnerships with each other. ARC director Doug Hooker calls it an “unprecedented time in history” and says that the leaders of each of these organizations “have an affinity for each other.” He says he hopes the first efforts to work together will succeed and their partnership will become institutionalized.

The Community Foundation’s Alicia Philipp sees the potential of bringing together the boards of the organizations so there can be even greater cooperation.

By bringing together these four organizations to the same table, we may be able to become more strategic in how we seek and implement solutions. If this new-found cooperation is embraced and nurtured, it will only make our region stronger.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed sharing my commentaries with WABE listeners for the past couple of years. Although this is my final one, you can still follow me on and in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Thank you for supporting public radio.


Commentary: New YMCA should preserve Westside history

Original Post on WABE by Maria Saporta


YMCA of Metro Atlanta will build a new headquarters, conceptual drawing seen here, on the Westside.

YMCA of Metro Atlanta will build a new headquarters, conceptual drawing seen here, on the Westside.

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta, the oldest nonprofit in the city, is leaving its home of more than 40 years in downtown Atlanta to go to the Westside. It is buying Jordan Hall with plans to demolish the building to build a Leadership and Learning Center that will offer early learning opportunities to Vine City.

Ed Munster describes the YMCA as an organization that’s not just for the young, not just for men and not just for Christians. It is an organization that serves everyone: young and old, men and women regardless of their faith.

It is in that spirit that the YMCA decided to locate its new $20 million headquarters on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a couple of blocks west of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

In addition to serving as headquarters, the new facility will house its Head Start early education program and serve about 70 children in the community.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the Y’s decision to move to Vine City is a concrete example that efforts to rejuvenate marginal neighborhoods on the Westside are beginning to take off.

There is much to celebrate with the Y’s decision to become even more vested in the communities it serves.

But, speaking for myself, I am disappointed the Y wasn’t able to incorporate the preservation of Jordan Hall in its plans.

One of my biggest fears for the Westside is that its rich history will be erased as new investments are made.

YMCA leaders say they studied options to save Jordan Hall but decided it was more cost effective to build new. They say they will look for ways to pay homage to the building’s history.

Most recently, Jordan Hall was part of the Morris Brown College campus. But it began as the Edmund Asa Ware Elementary School, one of the first schools in the city to educate African-American students. It was named after the first president of Atlanta University.

The Y still needs to get permits to move forward with its plans. It hopes to move into its new building by the summer of 2018.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Y and community leaders could find a way to preserve the area’s past while welcoming the future?


Erika Shield Mayor Reed Chief Turner

Commentary: Turner's legacy in Atlanta won't be forgotten

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Erika Shield Mayor Reed Chief Turner

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stands with retiring Police Chief George Turner and incoming Police Chief Erika Shields (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Police Chief George Turner will be retiring from his post at the end of the year – after spending 35 years with the Atlanta Police Department.

The news was met with sadness from the business-led Atlanta Police Foundation, the organization that has worked closely with Turner since he was made police chief in 2010.

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner is as Atlanta as one can be. He was born at Grady Hospital, and he grew up in the Perry Homes public housing neighborhood.

Statistics show that many of the young black males who grew up in Perry Homes ended up in prison or didn’t survive the streets.

Turner defied the odds, serving 35 years with the Atlanta Police Department.

He will retire at the end of the year, thanks to the city’s generous and solvent pension system. He actually stood to make a little less money if he stayed on, rather than retiring.

Turner’s contributions to Atlanta were heralded by Mayor Kasim Reed, top members of Turner’s team, and the business community, which has worked closely with the Chief from the moment he was named in 2010.

Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, called Turner the best of the best.

During the press conference to bid farewell to Turner and to welcome the next Police Chief Erika Shields, Turner kept talking about how much he loves Atlanta.

The community raised him, and in turn he was a link between police and the community. The force reflects Atlanta’s diversity, an effort that began in 1948 when the city hired its first black officer.

Turner’s legacy is a nearly 30 percent drop in crime, improved morale at APD as well as the establishment of strong ties between the police and citizens.

The tone of inclusion and compassion was set at the top.  Thank you Chief Turner.


Gov. Deal Sandra Allison Ashe

Commentary: Atlanta leaders 'Sleep Out' for the homeless

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Gov. Deal Sandra Allison Ashe

Covenant House’s Allison Ashe greets Gov. Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The Covenant House, a refuge for homeless youth, holds a unique fundraiser every year.

It invites community leaders to sleep outdoors so they can get a taste of what it’s like to be homeless. The fifth annual “Sleep Out” happened Nov. 17, when a hundred Atlanta leaders slept outdoors on the campus in Northwest Atlanta.

For one night, it was hard to tell the difference between the homeless and the CEO.

Executives dressed down wanted to be as comfortable as they could for a night sleeping outdoors in the elements.

Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal made an appearance early in the evening to show encouragement and support.

You might recognize some of the names of those who braved the night – Paul Garcia, the retired CEO of Global Payments; Bill Rogers, the CEO of SunTrust Banks Inc.; public relations executive Bob Hope; Jerome Russell of H.J. Russell & Co.; Clark Dean of Transwestern; civic leader Valerie Hartman; Coca-Cola North America President Sandy Douglas; film-maker David Lewis and his wife, Danica Kombol; and Gary Price, of the PwC accounting firm, flew in from New York to participate.

Delta Air Lines – a national sponsor of the Covenant House Sleep Outs – even recruited its employees in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Toronto.

Atlanta sponsors donated about $425,000 to Covenant House, as leaders stepped into the shoes of the homeless for a night.

Those funds will help Covenant House reach homeless youth in Atlanta, which total more than 3,000, according to Executive Director Allison Ashe.

Leaders and residents huddled together, candles were lit to represent young people still living on the streets.  And a list of names of the homeless, lost and fallen was read aloud.

And that’s when reality set in. We reflected on comforts we have, while working toward a better understanding those who have-not.


support MARTA

Commentary: The transit divide widens with election

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

The Nov. 8 election produced a major win for MARTA.  Nearly 130,000 Atlanta voters, or 71.34 percent, approved a half-penny sales tax to expand MARTA within the city limits.

At the same time, the city voted to increase overall transportation funding by a .4 of a penny sales tax.

This is in addition to the one-cent sales tax that the city of Atlanta has been investing in the MARTA system since 1971 – when Fulton and DeKalb counties also voted in favor of the regional transit system.

Since then, only one new county has joined the system – Clayton County in 2014.

Atlanta’s vote will create a wider divide in our region between the transit rich and the transit poor – the communities with a robust rail and bus system and the communities without.

The city has been enjoying the benefits from its investment in MARTA in recent years. Most of the major economic development announcements have been located near MARTA stations, and most of those have been within the city limits. Think NCR Corporation, GE, Kaiser Permanente, among many others.

The counties without a rail transit system are seeing several of their top companies relocating to places served by MARTA, reversing the decades-long trend of businesses moving to the suburbs.

So why are companies moving near MARTA stations?

Simple. They want to employ the best and the brightest college graduates, and that demographic wants to be able to live, work, learn and play in places where they do not need to own a car.

There are few areas in our region that provide the transportation alternatives that Atlanta offers. And that divide will only become more apparent as MARTA and the City of Atlanta begin to invest their new half-penny in expanded bus service and light rail lines.

This parallels continued investments in sidewalks, bicycle lanes and multipurpose trails – all key ingredients in creating a more walkable and livable city.

Meanwhile, the rest of Fulton County, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett passed local sales taxes to invest in transportation – primarily roads – which will only deepen the transit divide.

The longer Atlanta’s neighbors hesitate in joining our regional transit system, the more we will become a tale of two cities.


John Grant Bill Nordmark

Commentary: 'Friendship Initiative' bridging cultural divide

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

John Grant Bill Nordmark

John Grant and Bill Nordmark talk about how their new-found friendship can be a model for others (Photo by Byron Small, Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Two Atlanta business leaders have launched a new effort – the Atlanta Friendship Initiative – aimed at bridging divides in our community.

The idea is for two people of different races or ethnic backgrounds to agree to become friends. They pledge to see each other once a quarter and bring their families together once a year in fellowship.

Bill Nordmark, an Atlanta business consultant and former president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, had become increasingly concerned about the state of race relations here and incidents of violence between the police and citizens around the country.

He reached out to John Grant, the former CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, and asked if they could become friends.

The two men then set out on a mission to get others to join their cause. Since September, the two civic leaders have been able foster a total of 47 pairs of friends. That means there are 94 metro Atlanta leaders – black, white, male, female, Islamic, Jewish, Christian – who are proactively reaching out to people different from themselves.

Grant told Nordmark he felt God’s hand in the establishment of the Atlanta Friendship Initiative. Grant said he was familiar with how the now-defunct Atlanta Action Forum had played a similar role among the city’s black and white business leaders during the 1970s and 1980s. But the city has changed, and the business community is now more transient.

Nordmark and Grant, however, say they’ve been encouraged by the response. Almost everyone they’ve approached has embraced the idea and joined the self-directed initiative to build friendships across society’s divides.

Ed Baker, the former publisher of the Atlanta Business Chronicle who is now with Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business, had been talking with Nordmark about similar concerns for years. Not only has Baker become one of the friendship pairs, he said the Robinson College of Business will provide administrative support for the initiative.

Nordmark says he hopes civic organizations, churches, businesses and nonprofits will adopt the initiative. He already has reserved domain names for the America Friendship Initiative and the International Friendship Initiative.

As Nordmark said: “What better place to start this than Atlanta?”


Lifecycle Building Center

Commentary: Building material recycling center helps region

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Back when he was working at the Southface Energy Institute in the mid-2000s, Adam Deck came up with the idea of creating a nonprofit that would recycle building materials, keeping them out of landfills.

He started working on a business plan, but had a hard time getting traction.

Lifecycle Building Center

Adam Deck, Shannon Goodman and Jimmy Mitchell in the historic warehouse on Murphy Street (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Then, in 2011, Adam Deck was sitting at the bar at Manuel’s Tavern, and he started talking to the person sitting next to him. Deck mentioned the fledgling nonprofit and how it needed a large warehouse space to base its operations.

Harry Jenkins began asking him questions, before telling Deck that he might have just the spot for what would become the Lifecycle Building Center.

Quickly, Deck and then-board chair Shannon Goodman went to check out the facility on Murphy Avenue and realized it was perfect for them. They were able to negotiate a five-year lease with an option to buy the facility during that period.

As the nonprofit built its operation, the area in Southwest Atlanta was beginning to change and warehouse space was at a premium. The southwest portion of the Atlanta BeltLine also was getting built nearby, making LBC’s location more valuable.

Nonprofit officials realized it was a big risk to keep renting the facility.

Through multiple partnerships with public and private entities, the nonprofit was able to get a loan to buy the property, which actually includes two warehouses.

The LBC has proven its mission. Since 2011, it has prevented 2.1 million pounds of building materials from ending up in a landfill.

Instead, the products are sold to the public at highly discounted prices or donated to nonprofits that need the materials.

To pay off the loan and renovate the facility, LBC is planning to launch a capital campaign by next summer so it can continue its mission of recycling building materials for the good of our region.


Commentary: Cartooning for peace integral to free speech

Original story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Cartooning for Peace features more than 140 cartoonists bridging international barriers to find engaging and provocative ways to promote free speech in a democratic society. COURTESY OF FRANCE-ATLANTA.ORG

Cartooning for Peace features more than 140 cartoonists bridging international barriers to find engaging and provocative ways to promote free speech in a democratic society.

As part of France-Atlanta, an exhibition and program is being presented called “Cartooning for Peace: The of Art of Democracy.” Three world-renowned press cartoonists participated in the program – Jean “Plantu” Plantureux with Le Monde, France, Michel Kichka with Courrier International who is based in Israel, and our own Mike Luckovich with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ten years ago, Cartooning for Peace was born. Plantu of Le Monde worked with then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on a seminar called “Unlearning Intolerance.” It included 12 famous editorial cartoonists from around the world.

Since then, Plantu has come to Atlanta several times – joining his colleague Luckovich – Atlanta’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

And this October, Cartooning for Peace brought together Plantu, Luckovich and Kichka.

They helped kick off an outdoor exhibit of Cartooning for Peace cartoonists, part of the Atlanta arts initiative – ELEVATE.

Louis de Corail, the consul general of France in Atlanta, welcomed the cartoonists for lunch at his residence where the conversation centered around the presidential election and the amount of political unrest in the world today.

At one point, Luckovich asked Plantu if he had known the cartoonists who worked for the Charlie Hebdo newspaper who were gunned down by radical extremists.

Cartooning for Peace

Cartooning for Peace: Mike Luckovich with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.Michel Kichka with Courrier International who is based in Israel, Jean “Plantu” Plantureux with Le Monde with French Consul General in Atlanta – Louis de Corail (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Plantu bowed his head calmly naming all his friends who were killed that day.

Cartooning for Peace is the antidote of such events. More than 140 cartoonists are bridging international barriers to find engaging and provocative ways to promote free speech in a democratic society.

Political cartoons create a valuable space for dialogue, reflection and tolerance by using humor, satire and irony to evoke thought and freedom of expression.

The cartoonists had just met with students of the Atlanta Public Schools and Georgia Tech, and they were impressed by how engaged they were in current affairs, including the U.S. presidential race.

At one point, Luckovich said he has an easier job when he disagrees with a president, saying it was harder to make fun of Barack Obama than of George W. Bush. But then Luckovich added, he would rather have a good president than an easy job.

Billi and Bernie Marcus

Commentary: Marcus Trauma Center 'Destiny' for Philanthropist

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Billi and Bernie Marcus

Billi and Bernie Marcus in front of the plaque in their honor (By Renay Blumenthal of the Grady Health Foundation)

Grady Hospital dedicated the Marcus Trauma and Emergency Center on Oct. 5 in recognition of philanthropy of Billi and Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of the Home Depot.

In all, the Marcus couple have given a total of $50 million to Grady, which also went to the establishment of the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center.

The biggest disappointment in Bernie Marcus’ life was when he was accepted to Harvard’s medical school, because his family could not afford the $10,000 tuition.

And he wasn’t eligible for a scholarship because Harvard had already met its 10 percent quota of Jewish students.

Marcus had to set aside his dream of becoming a doctor and settled on becoming a pharmacist.

“I could have been somebody,” Marcus joked with me at the Grady dedication ceremony.

Marcus did become somebody. After being fired from Handy Dan, a home center retailer, Marcus and his colleague, Arthur Blank, decided to launch their own chain of home improvement mega stores.

The chain, Home Depot, was founded in Atlanta in 1978 and the two became billionaires.

But Marcus never forgot his first dream – of saving lives.

He and his wife have donated generously to Marcus Autism Center, Piedmont Hospital, the Shepherd Center and to Grady Hospital.

Marcus described his missed opportunity to become a doctor as “bashert,” which is Yiddish for “destiny.”

His contributions to Grady and the dedication of the Marcus Trauma and Emergency Center has helped fulfill his destiny.

Bernie Marcus was destined to save people’s lives.


Richard Bradley

Commentary: Perceptions about downtowns are changing

Original article on WABE by Maria Saporta

More than 700 people from around the country descended on Atlanta from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9 to attend the International Development Association meeting at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The event harkened back to 1977 – the last time the IDA came to Atlanta. At the time, Dan Sweat, who was heading Central Atlanta Progress, hosted the organization.

Richard Bradley

Richard Bradley receives IDA’s Dan Sweat award from Jim Cloar and Tally Sweat (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Downtowns have changed dramatically in the four decades since the last time the International Downtown Association met in Atlanta.

For instance, the organization’s members were the top executives of downtown groups – and at the time, they were all male. So Atlanta put together a “ladies program” for the spouses. Dan Sweat’s wife – Tally Sweat –helped organize the program.

Today, the association’s members include staff members in addition to top executives and industry consultants – and a large portion of the attendees were women.

Richard Bradley was president of the association in the 1980s. He remembered journalists calling when downtown department stores started closing and asking him whether their downtowns were dying.

Bradley optimistically told them downtowns were changing.

In the 1970s and 1980s, stores and businesses were moving away from central cities as suburbs were booming.

Today, downtowns are rebounding. More people want to live and work in urban centers – choosing authentic and historic locations rather than cookie-cutter suburbs.

The lingo also has also changed. Now downtown leaders talk about “place making” and creating experiences – a sharp contrast from the previous perception that downtowns were dirty, dangerous and dull.

Richard Bradley’s efforts have come full circle. He was recently presented with the IDA’s Dan Sweat Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the people presenting the 2016 award was Sweat’s widow – Tally Sweat.


Commentary: Georgia's a central city for global health

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

The Task Force for Global Health – the largest nonprofit based in Georgia – received a significant endorsement this month. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded the Task Force with its 2016 Humanitarian Prize – which comes with a $2 million grant.

One of Atlanta’s best kept secrets is the Task Force for Global Health – an organization that has been busy saving lives around the world for the past 32 years.

The Task Force for Global Health is going to use new grant money to help launch a $15 million campaign that includes the acquisition of a signature building in downtown Decatur.

The Task Force for Global Health is going to use new grant money to help launch a $15 million campaign that includes the acquisition of a signature building in downtown Decatur.

But the secret is becoming more widely known with the prestigious $2 million prize from the Hilton Foundation.

The Task Force is going to use the money to help launch a $15 million campaign that includes the acquisition of a signature building in downtown Decatur. This potentially puts both the Task Force and Atlanta in the limelight as a center for global health and development.

Peter Laugharn, president of the Hilton Foundation, said the Task Force has been an unsung hero.

He also said its new building for the Task Force will be a way to shine a spotlight on the life-changing work underway in Atlanta.

It will have a conference space on the first floor where health professionals from around the world will be able to convene to work on a myriad of challenges facing those living in extreme poverty.

Atlanta has numerous organizations focused on global health – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the private CDC Foundation, the Carter Center, CARE, MAP International and MedShare, plus several academic leaders, such as Emory University, Georgia State University and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

That’s not to mention the contributions by entities like Coca Cola Company, UPS, Delta Air Lines, Habitat for Humanity International and the American Cancer Society, among others.

While some of these organizations already work together on initiatives, their efforts could be much stronger if we had a way for all of them to collaborate more closely.

We’re already a leader in global health and development. It’s time for us to wear that crown proudly.


Commentary: Atlanta's need for a Peachtree Streetcar

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Atlanta Streetcar

File/Credit: Maria Saporta

The city of Atlanta and MARTA are planning major transportation investments in two separate sales tax referendums that will go before voters in November.

If approved, both taxes would generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year for a myriad of improvements including expanded streetcar or light rail lines, improved bus services, new multi-use trails and road upgrades into complete streets.

But one project missing from the plans is for a Peachtree streetcar.

The city of Atlanta has had a rocky experience with reintroduction of the streetcar.

Some question why the new streetcar followed an east-west tourist route from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center.

The project was envisioned to be part of a larger system that would have had a streetcar going up and down Peachtree Street from downtown to Buckhead.

When the city was not awarded federal funds to build the entire system, it had to build the east-west loop first for the streetcar maintenance facility located under the Downtown Connector.

The assumption was the Peachtree streetcar would be next – connecting the main activity centers in the city.

The most recent transportation plans show all kinds of lines for light rail in the city. But the Peachtree streetcar is not one of them.

How shortsighted. One of the biggest jabs against the existing Atlanta streetcar is that few people ride it – especially since the city began charging a $1 fare.

By comparison, a Peachtree Streetcar would generate more riders than any other route in the city because of the existing developments. While part of the route parallels the MARTA rail line, the two transit systems would serve different functions.

The heavy rail carries people on longer trips at a rapid speed. The streetcar would serve people going shorter distances who want to jump on and off to go to shops, restaurants, clubs, offices, hotels, condos and apartments along the corridor.

There also are stretches of Peachtree without rail transit – from the Arts Center MARTA Station to the Buckhead MARTA Station, a route that includes Piedmont Hospital and Peachtree Battle.

The good news? These plans are not carved in stone. As Atlanta grows, people who are now skeptical of a Peachtree streetcar will be begging for a better way to move up and down our signature street.


Manuel's Coke sign Obama

Commentary: Manuel's Tavern Coca-Cola sign a Community Icon

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Manuel's Coke sign Obama

President Barack Obama stops by Manuel’s on March 10, 2015 – greeting people in front of the iconic Coke sign (Photo: Special – Manuel’s Tavern)

Manuel’s Tavern is being refurbished inside and out.

The Coca-Cola Company is restoring the painted Coke sign that has graced the tavern’s wall for decades.

A hundred years ago, one of Coca-Cola’s top advertising tools was painting larger-than-life signs on the sides of buildings all over the country.

Those signs, painted by specialists who used a stencil provided by the Coca-Cola Company, fell out of favor as billboards started popping up on major roadways.

As time went on, the paint on those walls began to chip and fade, and those advertisements got a new name – ghost signs.

Coca-Cola Company archivist Ted Ryan said the wall-painted signs are making a comeback with the preservation of older buildings.

The company decides which paintings to restore on a case-by-case basis depending on the location, the customer and the building’s significance.

It didn’t hurt that Manuel’s has been a longtime customer in Coca-Cola’s hometown.

When Manuel’s Tavern shut down for renovations at the end of last year, it began exploring a possible restoration of its Coca-Cola sign.

The company said it would pay for the restoration – bringing Jack Fralin, an expert sign painter from Virginia.

The restoration is under way, with the existing image being blasted from the exterior brick wall. And Fralin will hand-paint the new sign to its previous Coca-Cola glory.

The tavern’s owner Brian Maloof said the sign has been a landmark for people looking for the tavern.

Instead of playing much of an advertising role, these signs actually evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding us of a simpler time.

Manuel’s should reopen in the first week of August.


PATH Ivan Allen

Commentary: PATH Foundation trails are good for Atlanta

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

The PATH Foundation recently launched a $15.8 million campaign so it can build another 37 miles of trails. COURTESY OF THE PATH FOUNDATION

The PATH Foundation recently launched a $15.8 million campaign so it can build another 37 miles of trails.

Since the PATH Foundation was established in 1991, more than 235 miles of multi-use trails have been developed in metro Atlanta. And PATH is showing no signs of slowing down.

It recently launched a $15.8 million campaign so it can build another 37 miles of trails. PATH has received two major gifts – $6 million from the James M. Cox Foundation and $4 million from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

Ed McBrayer, co-founder and executive director of the PATH Foundation, proudly points to the organization’s success. By its 25th anniversary, it plans to have completed 250 miles of multi-use trails in the Atlanta region.

There are too many PATH corridors to mention, but some of the best known are the Silver Comet Trail, the Eastside BeltLine trail and the Arabia Mountain Trail

The latest campaign will link a number of trail segments and connect them to what PATH intends to eventually become a seamless regional network of multi-use trails.

PATH Foundation

PATH’s planned trails on the Westside (PATH Foundation)

More than two decades ago, we had almost no off-road bicycle and pedestrian trails where we could escape our auto-dominated city.

Now imagine trails extending from a new bike depot at Centennial Olympic Park and headed to the Atlanta University Campus and to the Westside BeltLine Trail and another trail going along Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard and Northside Drive and extending to a new Mims Park and later the Bellwood Quarry.

From that same bike depot, cyclists and walkers will be able to travel on a trail that goes through the Georgia Tech campus.

One of the most exciting parts of this campaign will be a trail that weaves under and over the interchange at Georgia 400 and Interstate 285.

Several other expansions are planned all over the region – eventually allowing people to walk or ride along trails that are mostly separated from cars.

What PATH has done is help make Atlanta a city we want to live in – a place where we have options in the way we get around – and a region where we can enjoy our natural environment – away from it all.


Commentary: Central Library echoes former landmark's fate

Original post on WABE by Maria Saporta

The Carnegie Library in Atlanta was demolished in the 1970s. VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION

The Carnegie Library in Atlanta was demolished in the 1970s.

For decades, I have looked at the Breuer-designed Central Library and longed for the building that used to stand at that same corner, the Carnegie Library: a statuesque building that had adorned that site from 1902 until it was demolished in 1977. Leaders at the time said the building was too old and would cost too much to renovate.

What were we thinking?

The 1970s was a devastating period for Atlanta’s historic treasures. We tore down the Terminal Station, the Union Station and several iconic hotels. We lost Loew’s Grand Theater in a fire. And we almost tore down the Fox Theater until saner heads prevailed.

When the Carnegie was demolished, I barely remember a whimper of protest.

But for me, part of my past was being erased. One of my first jobs was working in the Carnegie, cleaning, sorting and filing classical music albums. I was only 16 and making just $1.60 an hour, but working in such a grand building among people who loved books and music helped anchor my love for Atlanta.

So when the Carnegie Library was torn down, I began my love-hate relationship with the city. For all these years, I have resented the Breuer library for replacing the Carnegie.

But I had an epiphany sitting in the board room of the Central Library last month: dozens of mainly younger citizens and residents testified about what the Breuer building meant to them. Their passion reminded me of my own from years ago.

Each generation relates to its own landmarks, and each landmark gives us a sense of time and place.

To tear down the Breuer Library would be just as much a mistake as tearing down the Carnegie Library was in 1977.


Maynard Jackson III and Wendy Eley Jackson

Commentary: The importance of Maynard Jackson documentary

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, Maynard Jackson, was elected in 1973 when he was only 35. He went on to become a national pioneer – establishing affirmative action and joint venture programs to better integrate the economy – both in Atlanta and throughout the United States.

And producers are working a documentary about his life.

On June 20, 2003, three days before he died, Maynard Jackson Jr. delivered the keynote address to a gathering of the National Association of Securities Professionals (NASP).

The organization was co-founded by Jackson in 1985 to be a venue for minorities working in the financial sector.

At that speech, Jackson called on the organization to combat what he called black apathy and white indifference in urban America.

Jackson begged for aggressive, intelligent leadership in the nation to continue to work on issues of equity and financial inclusion.

When NASP recently gathered for its national convention in Atlanta, members held a reception in Jackson’s honor.

Locals and visitors alike repeatedly said they would not have not been as successful without the former Atlanta mayor.

That is why producers and family members are making a documentary on Maynard Jackson.

The project is expected to cost about $3 million, and so far they have only raised $300,000.

Maynard Jackson III and his wife, Wendy Eley Jackson, are championing the documentary – working to ensure that the fight for economic integration is neither forgotten nor taken for granted.


Claire Sterk Emory

Commentary: Emory's new head wants to change school's image

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

Claire Sterk Emory

Newly-named Claire Sterk will be the first woman president of Emory University when she assumes the post on Sept. 1 (Special: Emory University)

Starting in September, Emory University welcomes its first female president, Claire Sterk. She served as Emory’s provost since 2013.

She succeeds Jim Wagner, who has been Emory’s president for 13 years.

When she was being interviewed to be Emory’s new president, Sterk repeatedly brought up a novel idea.

She wants the university to strike a memo of understanding with the city of Atlanta to work on issues critical to the city’s needs.

Officially, Emory is not located in Atlanta, and it is often perceived as an Ivy League institution set apart from the urban problems of poverty and despair.

Sterk wants to change that perception. She would like Emory to play an active role in solving society’s ills.

A native of the Netherlands, Sterk moved to Atlanta in the mid-1980s to become a visiting scientist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She worked on the AIDS/HIV epidemic, and later joined the faculty of Georgia State University – teaching public health and anthropology.

One of her areas of focus was witnessing the demolition of the nation’s first public housing project – Techwood Homes – and the area’s redevelopment into a mixed-income community – Centennial Place.

Universities in other cities have taken on the role of helping their surrounding communities, and Sterk believes Emory can be such a university and an example for Atlanta institutions.

Sterk is a refreshing face for our community – one where she has been working in for decades. But now she will be contributing as president of one of our most important universities.

Claire Sterk, we welcome you to your new role.


Liz Koch Jim Hannan

Commentary: A call to help Georgia's young entrepreneurs

Original post on WABE by Maria Saporta

Liz Koch Jim Hannan

Elizabeth Koch and Jim Hannan at recent reception celebrating 10 years of Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The Koch brothers have a national reputation for funding Republican candidates and conservative causes.

But in Georgia, there is another side to the Koch family. Koch Industries bought Georgia-Pacific in 2005. One year later, Charles Koch’s wife, Elizabeth Koch, started Youth Entrepreneurs Georgia to help spark an entrepreneurial spirit among students attending public schools.

Elizabeth Koch remembers how upset her husband was when he realized economics was not being taught in most public schools.

Ten years later, YE Georgia has expanded to several counties and worked with 2,000 students. The program currently reaches 360 students a year in 13 schools.

But Koch, along with Georgia-Pacific CEO Jim Hannan and YE Georgia executive director Scott Brown, have much more ambitious plans for the program.

They would like to reach 1,000 students a year by 2020.

YE Georgia celebrated its 10th anniversary in May at a reception held in the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

That’s when Koch launched the Chairman’s Circle, asking for support from individuals, foundations and corporations.

During the reception Scott Brown said YE Georgia is now primed for its next level of success by reaching more classrooms throughout the state.

With expanded support, the organization will be able to change even more lives of young people in Georgia by opening up new doors of opportunity.