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.
Jae Byrd October 09, 2013 at 11:58 AM
I agree with Mr.Beasley. There's a small group of folks in Grant Park trying to drive the agenda for a very big and, yes, mostly black district. There is a component of race in all of this whether the GP folks care to admit it or not. Race as class, that is. The haves don't want what the have-nots need. And the have-nots don't need what the haves want. That is the very definition of classism. Who's Beltline is this, really?
Rebecca M October 09, 2013 at 12:34 PM
So, according to the Reverend, it's a shame that I moved to a nice neighborhood so I can live close to work because somehow I am perpetuating a division in race and socioeconomic classes. Can someone explain to me why it's so horrid that I moved from another state so that I can further my career and live close to work? I don't know about you, but dilapidated, run-down homes don't look quite as nice as houses that people put some love and care into them. Just saying. What's wrong with making neighborhoods look better? At any rate, if you want to go to Wal*Mart, go ... there are two that are relatively close. Personally, I prefer Kroger, Target, and Trader Joe's - all which offer competitive prices and closer than Wally World.
Robert October 09, 2013 at 12:46 PM
What is happening at 800 Glenwood is the natural course of economic development and growth. PERIOD! And yes, this is what a component of gentrification is all about. If you don't like it, move over to the Hamilton E. Holmes, Hollowell Pkwy, Hollywood Rd and West Lake Ave corridors. There, you can "relish" and "thrive" in DECADES of economic stagnation, crime and generations of apathy and poverty. Is this a racial thing? Absolutely not! Cultural? You bet it is! Beasley's comment, "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." Prove your statement Beasley! If the "REVEREND'S comments weren't so pathetic and disgusting, they would almost be laughable. NOBODY is being "methodically displaced" or pushed out of their homes. The "haves," as you label them, have a right, and frankley an obligation, to work to improve the area in which they have CHOSEN to live and INVEST their money. And while we're at it, let's be clear about who you're referencing with your "haves" label. My is guess is you're talking about white people. And for you, REVEREND Beasley, to inject a RACIAL componant into this issue is despicable; though not surprsing coming from a Rainbow Push Coalition member. And BTW "We Need Jobs," if you want to shop at, or work for, a Walmart, or other stores with low prices, pack your bags for the grueling 3 mile trip out to Gresham Rd, or down Moreland between Confederate Ave and Custer Ave. Good grief!
CGriff October 09, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Reverend Beasley's comments are ridiculous and only aim to divide our community along racial lines. Did I move here from somewhere else, yes, Gwinnett County. Am I wrong for doing so, absolutely not. By calling the "haves" "fortunate people" totally misrepresents the truth. The fact is that most of the "haves" from Grant Park to East Atlanta are HARD WORKING MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES. To insinuate other wise is insulting to those of us that go to work every day and choose to call these neighborhoods our home. The Beltline is the best unifying and productive projects going on in Atlanta and has the potential to change our city in so many positive ways. Is there going to be development along the Beltline, absolutely. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done thoughtfully. Those of us that have moved here from the suburbs and are "methodically displacing families" because we want to reside near our places of business should know. We've seen what's left behind in communities that have no loose zoning standards and lack the foresight to plan for the long term.
Yasmin Laupus October 09, 2013 at 02:06 PM
How about listening to Rev Beasley's concerns on this? He is not a bystander. This is not the first time that he has seen and experienced first hand discrimination, displacement and lack of economic justice for poor black folks. Whether you want to hear it or not race and class is inextricably linked. It is not new. Ii is systemic. It has happened time and time again even in our recent history. Of course he has reason to call this out as he sees it. Robert, please be civil and respectful in the discourse about what may be an important phase in Atlanta's development. It is time to hear all points of view and perhaps come up with a truly smart growth for ALL not just the GPNA et all's vision.iF it is not just or equitable it will not work.
Martin K October 09, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Reverend Beasely, I would like to point out two arguments that you have included in your piece, and provide a studied counterargument to those statements. 1) By focusing on the aesthetic of the Beltline, the “haves” are explicitly attempting to limit the “economic empowerment” (which, might I add, has no real definition) of the “have-nots”. - You have provided absolutely no proof for this argument. No examples, no facts, just opinion that is inherently founded in classist ideology. You are marginalizing all people of education, means, and affluence into an ego-centric “self-centered” group, which is simply a self-serving generalization for the sake your argument. Who’s self-centered now? 2) These [the “haves”] 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 [the “Have-nots”] who always resided inside the city limits in large numbers — without regard for their fates. - I would like to break down these sentences. Firstly, you have created a straw man out of the new Atlantans, Implying that the third most likely source of their affluence is family money. How dare you. We are “fortunate” for having studied hard and worked even harder? Secondly, your statement regarding increasing housing costs directly related to property taxes is basic economics. Supply and demand. The more people want something, the more expensive it gets. This is capitalism. If you don’t like it, go to one of the fabulously successful non-capitalist nations. Thirdly, the displacement of families is not the fault of the “haves”, but the “have-nots”. If you want to stay in an expensive neighborhood, increase your personal value. Go to school, work hard. It’s not my fault you can’t keep up with changes. Adapt or die. Can’t access a job in your neighborhood? Move. It’s what all of us who have participated in “gentrification” did. Just because your grandparents lived here, doesn’t give you the implicit right to stay here. If I can outbid you on a house, that house is mine. Any argument contrary to that is one against the basics of capitalism. To be honest your generalizations, logical fallacies, and emotional arguments are what is wrong with District 1, not those who are working hard to better their community, at any cost.
Yasmin Laupus October 09, 2013 at 03:33 PM
An excerpt of Let America Be America Again I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek- And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope. Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Or take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed! ...Langston Hughes
Rick Laupus October 09, 2013 at 03:43 PM
I think the problem here has to do less with a suburban style development than with a suburban style mentality. Capitalism at its finest. What's mine is mine and what's yours will be mine...soon. It's the American way. Just ask the Cherokees.
Chris H October 09, 2013 at 03:47 PM
@ Yasmin Laupus, you like the Reverend are missing the point in the opposition to the project. This is about smart urban development and has NOTHING to do with race. A Walmart would be very welcome if it were put into smart urban design and not suburban style. Creating a more compact and walkable development here would create MORE jobs with a larger selection of new retail to choose from. And it would add more housing to the area in the way of apartments above the retail. This would create more traffic to those businesses, creating better jobs for the people of the community. I understand your points but this is not what is going on here. Don't jump on the race baiting bandwagon unless you know the facts.
Robert October 09, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Yasmin, I'll ask you the same thing I asked the Rev. Beasley. PROVE and BACK-UP your comments asserting that the 800 Glenwood Project creates "discrimination, displacement and lack of economic justice for poor black folks." As far as I know, there was no-one, black or white, living at the former cement plant...current site of the proposed 800 Glenwood development. I am so sick and tired of people like him sparking racial emotion where it does NOT belong. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO FUNDAMENTAL PROOF, OR TRUTH, TO HIS DISTORTED comments as they relate to this development. I've grown tired of people like Rev Beasley trying to make others like me feel guilty for being an engaged citizen and speaking MY rightful voice when it comes to issues affecting me and my community. I have a right to my opinion as well. I live here too, and have for over 13 years! I'm also a native Atlantan. I was raised to always be respectful and civil to those with whom I disagree. But there are limits. And I'm tired of trying to be civil and respectful to people like Beasley just for the sake of being "PC". He is coming across as nothing more than a race baitor and someone who is trying to place all of the ill's of the poor, black community on everyone else. And if my words, in your opinion, are not civil or respectful, TOO BAD! I'm fed up with this kind of unsubstantiated blame and accusation. I'll respectfully, and civilly, consider differing points of views that are vaild, worthy of rational debate and have substance. But Beasley's words are accusatory and have no provable basis in truth...And that's warrants a loud and strong response!
Kyle October 09, 2013 at 04:21 PM
To me, it seems that a better example of the mighty grabbing what they can at the expense of the weak is an incredibly wealthy entity like Fuqua throwing around their weight to get whatever they want, no matter what effect it will have on the people of the community. That is the "capitalism at its finest" being decried. That is "the American way" we're being accused of employing. The people fighting against this are the small people battling a giant. They are not the mighty in this fight. They are fighting for a better neighborhood -- a better city -- for all of us. They are not the bad guys pushing their will on the unwilling. Fuqua does not care about Reverend Beasley or his community's (our community's) well-being. We should all be fighting for better things for our community and all rise together. Beasley has misidentified his potential friends and partners as his enemy, and I'm afraid that may be because of the color of their skin. If they cared, Fuqua could do this right and we could all win.
FratGuy1 October 09, 2013 at 05:25 PM
I'm assuming these ignorant-to-economic-depression outsiders are bringing a Chipotle with them, yeah? If so, I vehemently disagree with Rev. Beasley. If Chipotle is not part of the equation, then yeah, I'm with the good Reverend - let's resist a natural societal change like gentrification and keep doing out thing. But, seriously, there will be a Chipotle, right?
Yasmin Laupus October 09, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Wow Robert you are out of control! Time to breathe in and out, then get out of your gated mind and talk to folks who have lived here all their lives and perhaps you will understand why there is so much suspicion and mistrust of the gentrifiers. However if this is too difficult how about going to the nearest library or to the history museum or to the MLK Center to learn about City of Atlanta's socio economic history.
OPMom October 09, 2013 at 05:59 PM
ATLGal October 09, 2013 at 06:44 PM
The entire premise of this article is ridiculous - it is narrow minded and narrow focused and replete with erroneous assumptions and conclusions. FACT: the Atlanta Beltline will generate more jobs in, and greater economic impact to, the City of Atlanta (as a whole) than any single development project has EVER generated in the history of the City. FACT: Any one neighborhood is not, and never will be, the 'driver' of this re-development and should not be burdened with that responsibility. FACT: For the last 7 years hundreds of people and dozens of neighborhoods around the Beltline have worked with great care and much consideration on Master Plans that were blessed by the Department of Planning and voted into legislation by City Council and signed into law by the Mayor of Atlanta and those plans are, and should always be, the basis for zoning and development inside the Beltline overlay. FACT: This fight has NOTHING to do with Walmart or any ONE developer. This fight is to defend that plan for the WHOLE City and not just one neighborhood.
Robert October 09, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Yasmin, really? Mistrust and suspician of the gentrifiers? Oh my God! Why don't you get out of your "everybodys out to get you" mindset and take an economics course. Jeez. You warrant no further responses from me.
RD October 09, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone views gentrification as a positive thing. Rev. Beasley is simply arguing the other side of the coin. One has to wonder, though, if any developer would view an old cement plant as an opportunity if it weren't for the gentrification. How many Fuqua/Sembler developments currently exist in neighborhoods that were impoverished at the time construction began?
Kirkwood Resident October 09, 2013 at 08:11 PM
First of all this projext has zero to do about race, but i find your argument interesting reverend. So let me get this straight. It's bad if you buy a house for a low amount of money and then people move around you and make their houses larger and newer and your house and property is worth more. While you cannot afford taxes on it, you sell it and make a good profit and can move to another area similar to where you lived before the new houses came. That's bad how? Also class is not racial. It may be here in Atlanta but move outside of Atlanta and the percentage of poor whites is higher. Poverty is poverty. This article is so sad. It shows the mentality of people who believe that others should always be watching out for their well being. So people move to a neighborhood, improve the schools, build new houses, pay taxes, and then they should be worried about if their neighbor is okay with the improvements or that they increased their neighbors home value? Such a victim attitude. I work hard. I came from a single mother who worked two jobs and taught me the value of hard work and education. Don't lecture me on being poor. Work hard, get education, move up.
Kirkwood Resident October 09, 2013 at 08:13 PM
fuqua's development in Buckhead by Lindbergh is a good example RD.
Kirkwood Resident October 09, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Also in Decatur at the suburban shopping center is rundown as well
Harold Sullivan October 09, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Only in Atlanta could a self-styled community leader push Wal-Mart as progressive and a community walking trail as a tool of oppression.
Lurlene Savant October 09, 2013 at 10:59 PM
@Harold - Will you marry me?
Urbanist October 10, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Reverend - Perhaps you should stick to what you know, which is standing on a pulpit, telling fables. Keep your nose out of urban planning (because you show absolutely no intelligent capacity in that respect), and keep the race card in your pocket.
Rebecca M October 10, 2013 at 09:29 AM
I did a little digging on this "Reverend." He's the mouth of Jesse Jackson when he's not here and has been spewing this junk for ages. Funny how the people that want to end the racial divide are the first ones that are constantly ranting and raving about it. Pffft.
EF October 10, 2013 at 09:31 AM
It's too bad the Rainbow Coalition (southeast) doesn't get on board with the Rainbow Coalition (north). http://www.captivatingnews.com/michigan/rainbow-push-michigan-joins-the-no-wal-mart-coalition/ Sunday, January 27, 2013 (DETROIT) – Tomorrow Rainbow PUSH Michigan will join the No Wal-Mart Coalition at a 5 p.m. rally calling on the Southfield City Council to reject the proposed Wal-Mart. The coalition is concerned about the destruction of neighborhood infrastructure, traffic congestion and treatment of workers at Wal-Mart Corporation. After the rally, the coalition will attend the 7 p.m. city council meeting where the city council is expected to vote on the proposed Wal-Mart.
scott October 10, 2013 at 05:20 PM
I couldn't recommend some of these comments enough, just had to say it. Thanks neighbors.
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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