UPDATE: Nonprofit, developer push competing plans for Pullman Yard

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 1, 2015
The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The Pullman Yard in Kirkwood. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

One of Kirkwood’s most iconic buildings is also one of its biggest challenges.

The Georgia Building Authority currently owns the Pratt-Pullman Yard and hasn’t put the property on the market. It’s being leased to film companies, its vacant buildings serving as a backdrop for apocalyptic films like “The Hunger Games.”

Last year, the Kirkwood Neighbors’ Organization and the Neighborhood Planning Unit both endorsed a proposal from Pullman Historic Development LLC to redevelop the historic property into a mixed use development that includes town homes, recreational space, offices, and restaurants.

Now a local nonprofit, Atlanta ContactPoint, is pushing its vision for the 25 acre site. Atlanta ContactPoint is proposing multi-purpose sports fields. The nonprofit is also pushing office space rentals, arts and greenhouse spaces.

Both proposals would seek to preserve the historic structures on the Pullman Yard site.


ContactPoint has scheduled a series of meetings to present their vision to the public. The first will be on May 21 at Le Petit Marche in Kirkwood at 7 pm. There will also be a presentation on May 23 at 11 am at the Bessie Branham Recreation Center at 2051 Delano Drive Northeast.

David Epstein, executive director for Atlanta ContactPoint, said that his group would raise the money to purchase the property. He also argued that a developer would have to spend so much upgrading infrastructure at the site that they wouldn’t be able to make a compelling offer to GBA to buy the property.

“We feel confident that whatever the developer would be offering the state is not a whole lot of money,” he said. “There’s a lot of things a developer would have to do.”

The group also has the support of Dante Stephenson, owner of the famous Dante’s Down the Hatch restaurant. Curbed Atlanta reports that Stephenson has offered to donate a 1915 Pullman Lounge car to Atlanta ContactPoint.

Real estate investor Stan Sugarman, one of the partners in Pullman Historic Development, said that the group will have to raise a considerable amount if it wants to buy the property from GBA. He said restoring the historic buildings on the site would cost $15 million. Adding water, sewer, lighting and turf would increase the cost to $35 million to $40 million, he said.

“I can’t afford to do it (on my own),” Sugarman said. “I have equity partners we’ve worked with in the past. You’re talking some major dollars.”

Epstein believes there would be enough money available through fundraising to make a credible offer.

“If you look at all the money given and raised toward sports, physical education, nutritional education and the arts, you have the recipe to be able to raise whatever you need,” he said.

Decaturish has left a message with the Georgia Building Authority to see if there are any plans to put the property back on the market in the near future. This story will be updated if GBA responds.

Epstein said even though the property is not on the market, his group intends to approach the board directly.

“The Georgia building authority is board run they can make a decision via the board,” he said.

Sugarman says his development company is also trying to get GBA to put the property back on the market.

“We’re working with the city of Atlanta and the state agencies to expedite the process of getting the state to sell it,” he said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story referred to the Pullman Historic Development proposal a town home development. PHD provided additional information about what their mixed-use proposal – which includes town homes – would entail. The information has been added to this article. 

Which proposal do you support?

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • It really doesn’t matter what we support. The Building Authority has to put the property on the market. Someone has to buy it. Can this non-profit outbid the developer? Wish they could. But this is not Oakhurst. The city isn’t going to swoop in to turn this into parkland, either. That being the case, responsible development is the best that can be hoped for.

    I mean, unless someone wants to write an 8-figure check….I’d love that personally.

  • Atticus LeBlanc

    To call the PHD plan a townhouse development is patently unfair. It’s a mixed use proposal that could easily incorporate many of Mr. Epstein’s programs, and already incorporates large amounts of open recreational space for public use, urban farms, a fitness & recreation center, restaurants, a coffee shop, event space, multi-use trails and paths, traditional offices as well as an entrepreneurship and non-profit incubator space all sustainably designed to conserve as much energy and water as possible. The primary goal of Pullman Historic Development is historic preservation as the name implies, and doing so within the framework of community input on the design and uses requested by the neighborhood and NPU.

  • photoneda

    I appreciate the concept and enthusiasm of Atlanta Contact point. I do
    however believe that as developers, PHD has the experience and integrity
    required to honor this property through their historic re-development
    plans. Unlike many developers I believe this group is truly committed
    to supporting and facilitating community development while including
    residents in the process (as they have since the begining:
    It is our responsibility as citizens to continue to provide our input
    on what we want and what we need. I think a more realistic approach
    would be for Atlanta Contact Point and PHD to support each others
    efforts through collaboration. It doesn’t seem that anyone at ACP is in
    the business of historic property redevelopment and it is a bit naive to
    think that fundraising is all this process requires. Although ACP may
    be great at grass roots engagement I do not trust they have the
    experience to develop this site. I vote for PHD to house ACP among other
    great organizations to meet the MANY needs of our community (including
    more housing and businesses). We need PHD as developers and ACP and
    other as programmers. Let let people shine in their designated areas of
    expertise and grow together as a community.

  • An American Patriot

    I started my working career on Rogers Street that ran the entire length of the Pullman Yards as a nineteen year old kid in 1959. I have fond memories of the property and always wished it would be re-developed into a majestic development that would set the stage for other development in the area. I would be willing to bet that maybe a lot of local companies would be interested in having a location there, including the largest supplier of Electricity in The Great State of Georgia. A small local office to serve the area and maybe even a small Operating Headquarters…..great locations for both. This is a prime piece of property and should be developed to it’s full potential. Mr. Sugarman, would it be feasible to sell stock in a start up company for the sole purpose of purchasing and developing the property? As a case in point, look what has happened to the former Atlanta Gas Light Company Property on Moreland Avenue, now a fantastic development known simply as “Edgewood”. I’m sure there are a lot of folks in Metro Atlanta who would be interested. Think about it. BTW, has anyone seen the former General Motors Assembly Plant in Doraville. It’s being reduced to piles of rubble. One day, a new experience will rise out of this rubble and hundreds of thousands of people in cars will ride by it each day and look in amazement at a new city rising; however, it may take a few years.

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