As a crowd gathered outside of the new Publix supermarket in the Summerhill section of downtown, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens stood in front of the doors and greeted them. A native of nearby Adamsville, Dickens knows full well what a major supermarket chain opening its doors in Summerhill means for Atlanta’s growth, and more specifically the neighborhood’s growth.
Publix has 150 stores in metro Atlanta.
“I know when we cut the ribbon and open this store we are going to support this grocery store,” said Dickens. “Thank you Publix for investing in this community.”
The 48,000-square-foot store is the first major supermarket chain to come to Summerhill in generations. The Publix will employ 125-150 associates of all levels, according to Publix media relations manager Nicole Krauss, who was on hand for the grand opening along with other Publix staff, including Brenda Reid, the company’s community relations manager for the Atlanta Division.
Reid, an Atlanta native, also recognizes that this is more than just a supermarket coming to an Atlanta neighborhood.
“The community has been evolving for decades now and the opportunity for us to place a store here is important,” said Reid, who has opened 200 stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee during her career with Publix. “So much didn’t happen here in Summerhill.”
Along with a pharmacy, the project will also include a Piedmont Urgent Care on the grounds. There will also be jobs as the store will have between 125-150 associates working at various positions.
“For Publix in Atlanta, we seek to be a reflection of the community that we serve,” said Krauss. “Summerhill just made sense.”
The once all-Black neighborhood of Summerhill fit the description of a food desert after not having a major supermarket within its limits for decades. The Publix is being welcomed as an end to what was and an introduction to an entirely new version of Summerhill.
“Many of us lived years without any grocery stores within miles of our homes,” said Organized Neighbors of Summerhill President John Helton, who attended the ribbon cutting Wednesday morning. “As a 22-year resident of Summerhill, I know my neighbors are as excited as I am for the new Publix to open in our neighborhood.”
Located in the heart of downtown, only blocks from the Georgia State Capital, Summerhill has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. New multifamily residential projects like 565 Hank by Windsor, a sprawling apartment project that sits just across Hank Aaron Drive from where the Atlanta Braves once played and won the 1995 World Series title, allow residents to live, work and play downtown.
Construction is currently underway on townhomes nearby and there have been several restaurants, bakeries and small businesses that have opened during the past few years.
“When the MARTA RAPID BRT is complete, this location will provide easy access to the entire south downtown Hank Aaron corridor,” Helton said.
The supermarket will include a lounge on the mezzanine level and free WiFi throughout. There are also elevators to and from the underground parking.
The Publix is located at 672 Hank Aaron Drive, SE.