Thursday morning, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) has selected the finalist in its Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the highly-anticipated redevelopment of the 20-acre Murphy Crossing site, located at 1050 Murphy Avenue in southwest Atlanta. The finalist is real estate development company Culdesac, Inc., who will partner with Urban Oasis Development, Kronberg Urbanists + Architects, LDG Consulting and T. Dallas Smith and Co. to realize the new mixed-use development at Murphy Crossing, which sits within the Oakland City neighborhood and is bordered by the neighborhoods of Adair Park and Capitol View.

The plan has prioritized high density, transit-oriented development focused on preserving land for pedestrians and bicyclists in outdoor spaces protected from cars. The open layout will also include residential and commercial affordability in a mix of new and existing buildings to create connectivity with the surrounding neighborhood. Additional components will include a grocery store, retail and dining options, co-working spaces, arts and culture programming and a farmers’ market – in tribute to the land’s historic fabric and character.

“Culdesac, Inc. designs welcoming and locally connected neighborhoods that offer a walkable lifestyle. We build mixed-use developments that embrace community, open space, and mobility, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to bring our next neighborhood to Murphy Crossing,” said Jeff Berens, Culdesac Co-Founder and COO. “We look forward to working with our partners in the development of a project that reflects the BeltLine’s commitment to tie the people of Atlanta together and create a more livable and geographically integrated city.”

The proposed development, to be known as Murphy Crossing by Culdesac, will support the BeltLine in its efforts to further its equity, affordability and inclusion goals through intentional development, employment and housing options, and transit connectivity.

One of the key components of the project is its contribution to ABI’s affordable housing goal. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the residential units will be designated permanently affordable with an additional five percent (5%) deemed affordable for at least the next 30 years. The target AMI is between 60 and 80 percent. Additionally, Culdesac intends to offer 30% of all retail and light industrial spaces at an affordable rate to small businesses in the area.

“The Atlanta BeltLine is a project for everyone. Rising prices across the city and the nation are making it harder for residents, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to succeed,” said Clyde Higgs, President and CEO, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “Murphy Crossing is our opportunity to play a direct role in creating affordable lifestyles and thriving businesses, which are top priorities for the BeltLine to be successful for communities.”

Photo: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

The site is adjacent to the BeltLine’s Westside Trail and in close proximity to the Oakland City and West End MARTA stations, providing a critical conduit for connectivity and development within southwest Atlanta.

“We’re very focused on providing attainable and flexible commercial space,” explained Sarah Zou of Culdesac. “We intentionally design and build for a variety of uses: light industrial, office, event space, retail, live-work, co-working, maker-space, pop-ups, long-term leases and more to serve a variety of potential tenants of all sizes, timelines, and strategies. Moreover, we will be issuing small business grants and offering affordable commercial spaces to support our tenants, particularly those who may be just starting their enterprises.”

The site, once home to the Georgia State Farmers Market, was first included in ABI’s foundational Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan in 2005 as one of its key redevelopment centers. By 2014, ABI was able to acquire its first portion of the future Murphy Crossing site – 16 acres of the 20-acre property.

In 2016, ABI initiated an extensive community engagement process and commissioned a study to determine best uses for the site based on the area’s need for economic development, transportation accessibility, affordability and historic preservation.

In 2018, ABI completed its purchase of Murphy Crossing and initiated a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for its sale and redevelopment, to be guided by the extensive community input.

Due to COVID, the RFP was put on hold until 2021. When it was officially re-initiated, ABI directly engaged stakeholders and the broader community to help develop the scope of the RFP. The resulting RFP sought a developer with an innovative redevelopment plan that would include the creation of sustainable living-wage jobs, affordable housing, greenspace and other program elements that would enhance the surrounding community and catalyze inclusive economic development.

Pittsburgh Yards is a popular co-working and business incubator space that is primed for growth. More than 90% of the businesses that operate out of the space on 352 University Avenue are minority and women-owned. WIth the new development and build out of the southside portion of the Atlanta Beltline, Pittsburgh Yards is poised to become a bigger player in minority-owned business development. 

“New business entrepreneurs, especially Minority Business Enterprises, face disproportionate barriers when starting and maintaining businesses,” said Higgs. “Access to commercially affordable space is one of the greatest challenges. With Murphy Crossing and Pittsburgh Yards in such close proximity, we have two entities focused on creating more equitable access to opportunity within these burgeoning business districts.”

Additional reporting is provided by Itoro N. Umontuen of The Atlanta Voice.