PATCH VOICES: A Different Viewpoint on 800 Glenwood Place

'The bucolic benefits of the BeltLine’s plan may need to be re-examined closely for signs of discrimination against anyone who cannot afford the lifestyle it supports.'

The Rev. Joe Beasley. PHOTO CREDIT: Special
The Rev. Joe Beasley. PHOTO CREDIT: Special
by Rev. Joe Beasley

Atlanta has a well honed reputation as a "city too busy to hate," but sadly, we live in a community where people still try to disguise their prejudices as well-intentioned behavior. I refer to the controversy surrounding proposed commercial re-development of a parcel in Atlanta’s District One, a community of historical significance to the inner city’s longtime African American residents.

There is a nasty spat underway there that appears to be about protecting the BeltLine project’s environmental aesthetic — green spaces, pedestrian traffic, etc.  The truth is this is just another attempt by the haves to limit the economic empowerment of the have-nots. And, unfortunately, minorities are again on the losing end of the proposition.

All around Atlanta, other traditional neighborhoods already have been transitioned by the gentrification of folks who moved here from somewhere else to live closer in and near their careers, academic pursuits and the leisure time amenities our great city has to offer. These are fortunate people with great jobs, thriving businesses or just family money. They have bought homes, raised property taxes that increased the burden on seniors still living there, and methodically displaced families who always resided inside the city limits in large numbers — without regard for their fates. Meanwhile, the flight of large-scale commercial retail development to the suburbs may have made room in the city for more upscale housing and small businesses but it also took away the availability of ordinary, median income jobs near the homes of indigenous residents.  

Now comes an opportunity for the creation of jobs through this proposed development and a few are railing against it — not because it’s a bad plan but because it‘s what their new constituents in a majority black district oppose.  But who are they, really?  And what do they know about economic depression?  Soon a meeting of the City’s Board of Zoning Adjustment will address the issues related to allowing this already-city-approved progressive development to take place. The opposition factors are well-organized behind their “good intentions” but they are so tragically misinformed about what this opportunity can mean to their neighbors and the urban communities.

New Atlantans will be the first to boast of the diversity that makes intown living so special. Yet, they may find themselves in an economically homogenous society once their neighbors are unable to bear the cost of having to travel far to find employment. Perhaps they are unaware that bringing business back to the city is one way to empower their less-well-off neighbors.  The bucolic benefits of the BeltLine’s plan may need to be re-examined closely for signs of discrimination against anyone who cannot afford the lifestyle it supports. Fortunately, some elected officials understand how creating jobs inside the Perimeter portends positive outcomes for the entire metro area.   

Our nation’s financial woes are local, not national.  They begin with communities like District One, where self-centered individuals are turning their backs on their neighbors. Their attitudes impact political decision-making that keeps prosperity at bay for ordinary folks who just want an opportunity for and access to a job. An economic development is on the table that can make this happen, and I support it wholeheartedly. At the end of the day, this development can help improve the economic condition of hundreds of people at a time when jobs are scarce, particularly for African Americans. This cause needs a champion, not self centered opposition.

The Rev. Beasley, chief executive and founder of the Joe Beasley Foundation, is director of the Rainbow Push Coalition's Southeast Region.
Phred Huber October 12, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Please be aware that some of the commenters on here may be on the payroll of the folks behind the proposed Big Box development. That is standard practice.
Ikeahacker October 15, 2013 at 08:56 AM
Beasley has been a race pimp for a while and he continues to interject himself into political commentary and scream race. During the panhandling debate at City Hall he repeatedly called folks uncle toms, immigrants that are taking advantage of black peoples struggles and whitey's. Anyone, including blacks that opposed the third world vending was a target. He lives in an ivory tower. He never walks around the neighborhood he lives in which is plagued with street crime, drugs and prostitution. Instead he jumps in his jaguar and speeds out of the city on a airplane to Africa. He is not connected to Atlanta. Plus he's got plenty of secrets which is why his diatribes continue to divide Atlanta along race lines “The fanatic man is someone who constantly overcompensates a secret doubt.” This is not about property taxes or race. This is about the cities continued attempt to silence ANY wants of ANY residents black or white. Regardless of what NPU or neighborhood organization you are in this means your vote does not matter. A liquor store, a convenience store, a Walmart, a massage business, a crack house. ANY business is allowed in Atlanta because we are so desperate for a tax base. “Follow the money that is all you have to do Mr. Beasley” Atlanta proper has struggled to attract residents. In 1990 there were 394K residents and of 2012 there were only 434K. Many new residents to Atlanta proper are joining NPU'S, neighborhood organizations and the like but they are figuring that regardless of race the city does not have a lawful obligation to listen to its residents. We have no lawful power and that has to change.
Ikeahacker October 15, 2013 at 09:30 AM
We are not San Francisco. With our declining tax base we cannot say no to tried and true big box retailer. When San Franciso says no to Walmart it makes them cool. It's a rich city. When we say not to Walmart it's makes us look silly. This city is not going to burn bridges with developers and hold out hope that 20 years down the line the Beltline is going to pay the city back in jobs and infrastructure. It's not going to listen to the developer of bike line over big box retailer that gives immediate benefits.
George A. Klein October 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM
As Rev. Beasley knows, this conflict is NOT about blacks and whites. It's about GREEN. Money talks and I'm quite sure those pushing this ridiculous proposal have had their palms greased with plenty of GREEN.


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