Georgia | The following is one of the success stories of the National Trust`s Community Partners (CP) program. Other case studies are available from their website:
http://www.nationaltrust.org/community_partners/ | Posted: 08/01/2003
Once rich with the sounds of Cab Calloway, Diana Ross and James Brown, Sweet Auburn thrived in the mid-20th century as a bustling center of Atlanta`s African-American life. But in the 1960s and 1970s, like so many other inner-city neighborhoods, Sweet Auburn fell victim to disinvestment, crime and abandonment, its problems compounded by highway construction that split it in two. In 1992, it made the National Trust`s list of America`s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) was formed to turn the trend around, starting with houses surrounding the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and working outward. HDDC designed Sweet Auburn`s renewal to improve the community without pricing lower-income residents out of the neighborhood. Since 1994, HDDC has built and rehabilitated more than 110 single-family homes and more than 50 units of affordable rental housing. The result: a flourishing mixed-income neighborhood anchored by one of the civil rights movement`s most important landmarks.
HDDC`s latest challenge is the revitalization of Sweet Auburn`s commercial district. To help meet this new goal, the National Trust for Historic Preservation`s Community Partners has increased HDDC`s revolving line of credit to $250,000. Already the group has rehabilitated the Studioplex on Auburn, a mixed-use artists` living and working complex housed in a 1904 cotton compress warehouse. The $18.3 million rehabilitation includes 112 artist lofts, 17 commercial units and 24 art galleries.
Sweet Auburn`s renewal is one of many success stories in which Community Partners has been fortunate enough to participate. HDDC is a perfect model of this success, seamlessly linking community development and historic preservation. As committed to strengthening the community as to preserving the neighborhood`s unique cultural and historic character, HDDC created a stable, diverse community without displacing its residents. HDDC`s success proves that historic preservation can be a crucial tool for economic development.
Forging partnerships with community development organizations at national, state and local levels, Community Partners creates innovative real estate financing mechanisms to encourage the affordable reuse of historic buildings in inner-city communities. Since its inception in 1994, Community Partners` financing commitments have helped private developers, local governments and nonprofit sponsors rehabilitate historic buildings valued at more than $1 billion.
For more information contact:
National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036