On Thursday, the developers hoping to breathe new life into Underground Atlanta held their first community meeting since purchasing the property.
Steve Howe is Chief Operating Officer with WRS, the real estate company that owns the site. He’s looking to turn the 12 acres in the heart of downtown Atlanta into a residential and commercial destination.
“We want to bring people that will live here, so that they can eat here, they can work here, and just really truly activate this part of town that is not as active as it really should be,” he said.
At the meeting, community members asked about housing affordability, the need for parking, and public access to the private development.
Grace Kim is the vice chair of Eyedrum, an art gallery three blocks from Underground Atlanta. She’s worried about economic opportunities for artists who live and work nearby.
“They are residents. They are workers. They are public art makers for this neighborhood,” Kim said. “So, I think they are stakeholders here.”
Nedra Deadwyler, the owner of the bike tour agency Civil Bikes, wants the developers to commit to offering more access to affordable housing.
“Even in providing a grocery store here, it needs to be able to serve everyone who lives here. Not just a Whole Foods, which, for some people like myself, it’s an entire paycheck,” she said.
WRS officials said they’d consider the issues and were open to more conversations at later community meetings.
The South Carolina based developer bought Underground Atlanta from the city in March for $34 million.
For decades, it’s been the site of the Peach Drop New Year’s Eve celebration, billed as the largest in the Southeast.