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Neighborhood Association Says Development in Historic Black Community Is ‘Positive’ But Coded Language of ‘New Atlanta’ Triggers Gentrification Fears

An Atlanta neighborhood association is defending developers in the hot seat for initially failing to include Black residents in marketing imagery for a development project in a historically black neighborhood.

Grove Park Neighborhood Association President TJ Austin said in a statement to Atlanta Black Star Wednesday he just doesn’t think the claims are true based on years of positive interactions with developers.

“When creating the marketing materials for Quarry Yards, the intent was not to be exclusionary, but intended to convey that the project and its planned design/amenities is a completely ‘new’ development concept for the city of Atlanta and urban planning,” Austin said.

Urban Creek Partners recently came under fire when the development company failed to include any imagery of Black people in its 34-page marketing package for a $400 million mixed-use development dubbed Quarry Yards.

Related: ‘New Atlanta’ Development In Old Black Neighborhood Forced to Change Its All White Marketing Campaign

Austin said that the Quarry Yards site, located in the Grove Park community, spans more than 70 continuous acres, much of which is abandoned industrial land.

Marketing for Quarry Yards particularly bothered Atlanta residents already worried about gentrification driving Black people out of the city.

The since-amended marketing deck included a page depicting only white residents under the title “New Atlanta.” 

Quarry Yards old marketing
This photo sparked community complaints about a lack of diversity. It was part of a 34-page marketing plan for the Quarry Yards redevelopment project in northwest Atlanta. (Photo: Urban Creek Partners)

“Wow. This is so disturbing,” James Bailey, president of the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said in a Facebook post about the marketing July 6.

Local residents and activists Joe Beasley, Matthew Charles Cardinale and Diane Wright filed a complaint last Monday with the Housing and Urban Development Department in Atlanta.

They cited the “New Atlanta” phrasing and also concerns that the area would no longer be affordable.

Mark Teixeira, co-founder of Urban Creek Partners, has assured residents that won’t be the case.

He has said the very first development at Quarry Yards will bring 182 units of new affordable housing to the community.

Austin said in his statement that while the neighborhood association doesn’t agree with use of the phrase “New Atlanta,” that messaging and the other marketing depictions are “not truly reflective of the relationships that have been established over the last several years.”

“The term ‘New Atlanta’ resonates with many in our community as coded language, which gives the impression that Quarry Yards is not for the current residents of Grove Park or the surrounding community,” Austin said.

He said since the project’s inception, Urban Creek Partners has sought input from the neighborhood association and facilitated multiple community input sessions. The company, which changed “New Atlanta” to “Old Atlanta” even led sponsorship of Grove Park’s annual festival for the past two years.

Fixed Quarry Yards marketing
Developers have included images of Black people throughout the marketing materials for a new northwest Atlanta development project dubbed Quarry Yards. An earlier version of the marketing didn’t include any Black people. (Photo by Urban Creek Partners)

“As residents, we are excited about the positive changes that sustainable, inclusive growth will yield for the Westside,” Austin said.

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