Atlanta school board advised to consider getting rid of 16 properties

Atlanta Public Schools consultants have recommended the potential disposal of 16 properties, sites they said the district should consider selling or trading.

The properties are scattered throughout the city’s central, western and southern neighborhoods and include vacant buildings such as the former Anderson Park, Capitol View, Lakewood Heights and Towns elementary schools plus inactive or small pieces of land.

Consultants from the Sizemore Group, hired by APS in 2019 to create a facilities master plan, presented the recommendation at a Thursday school board meeting.

Officials stressed the proposed disposal list is not final.

“It’s really important to let people know that while we may be presenting them with 16 properties that no decision has been made,” board member Tamara Jones said during the meeting. “I can perceive there being a lot of angst. So just make it very, very clear that there is no decision that’s been made on this.”

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The district plans to hold additional meetings to gather public feedback starting Aug. 25. A final board vote is expected in November.

APS is a major landowner, and developers have long shown interest in some of its holdings. Of the district’s 152 properties, 105 are in use.

Consultants considered enrollment projections, risk hazards such as a site’s proximity to railroads and highways, and property size and location to determine which of the district’s 47 potentially excess properties may no longer be needed.

Tom Sayre, of the Sizemore Group, told board members there are numerous other uses — from affordable and workforce housing to arts and community centers — that the properties “could be put to use for if it’s not required for future student growth.”

”Our task is to determine which should be held and which might be safely disposed of because they’re either not desirable or not needed or both,” he said.

Credit: Johnny Crawford

Credit: Johnny Crawford

Two buildings on the list could be historically significant, according to APS.

The former Capitol View Elementary School, on Metropolitan Parkway, was built in the late 1920s, according to district records. The former Lakewood Heights Elementary School, on Sawtell Avenue, is about 90 years old and was designed by the Edwards and Sayward architectural firm, according to the Atlanta Preservation Center.

Sayre said he recommends that should the board decide to sell or trade either property, that the contract state that the buildings should be preserved.

Board Chair Eshé Collins said it would be up to APS administrators and the board to determine how exactly any properties would be disposed of and if that would mean selling them or taking other actions.

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The ongoing facilities master planning work has other components. Earlier this week, the school board authorized the opening of a new elementary school, to be located at the former Inman Middle School. It will serve students from the Midtown neighborhoods.

And the board will soon tackle high school capacity issues, which could lead to additional changes.