[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text dp_text_size=”size-4″]News of Microsoft’s foray into Atlanta’s Westside sent a shiver down the spine of many affordable housing advocates. After all, a tech giant reimagining 90 acres of what developers consider prime intown real estate doesn’t exactly spell promise for communities that have long been starved of investment but are now threatened by gentrification.
On Thursday, Microsoft, which recently bought the Westside property where developers had planned to build the mixed-use colossus Quarry Yards, announced that 25 percent of its newly acquired land would be “dedicated to affordable housing and other key community initiatives,” a company news release says.
The project also entails the development of the company’s first “datacenter region” in the state, and “It’s using a community-first approach of listening to local leaders about their goals for housing, STEM education investment and development of a talent pipeline with local public schools, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other academic institutions.”
This endeavor promises to transform the Westside and beyond. But will that be a good thing for the lower-income communities where the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry, the Atlanta Beltline and the Proctor Creek Greenway converge?
The tech behemoth has thus far released little information on its plans for the housing component of its development project. A Microsoft spokesperson told Atlanta Civic Circle in an email that the news of its 25-percent commitment to housing “and other key community initiatives” was all the company had to share.
So, while stakeholders watch with bated breath for more information about Microsoft’s plans, ACC has whipped up some questions whose answers could determine the fate of many longtime Westside residents.
- How is Microsoft defining “affordable,” relative to the area median income? Experts have said Atlanta is most in need of housing priced for people making below 50 percent of the AMI, but development at such a price point is rare.
- Who do you imagine will live here? Is this for the teachers, first responders, grocery baggers and other hourly workers?
- How many units could be developed on this chunk of the property? Do we know yet what it might look like (i.e. mixed-use, with a grocery store and other amenities, such as jobs training operations, fitness facilities, a media center, etc.)?
- Will the “affordable” housing component be flanked by a market-rate and/or luxury residential element?
- How long will these units be affordable? Is this permanent affordable housing?
- What’s the timeline for this element of the project? Is housing a top priority?
- In what ways will this project directly impact its neighbors?
As we continue to badger Microsoft officials for more information, tell us what you want to know about the project. Are you excited, worried or just curious to know more? Leave your input in the comment section below.
(Header image, via Microsoft: The area around Bellwood Quarry is primed for a revamp.)
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