Atlanta opens English Avenue housing complex for police recruits

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta police recruits have a new place to call home after officials celebrated the opening of the Unity Place apartment building on Wednesday.

Unity Place will house at least 30 officers in training. It is located at 744 North Ave., in the English Avenue community.

City officials call the complex the first of its kind nationwide. They consider it a proactive form of community policing in an area that was once riddled with so much crime and disinvestment that it was derogatively called “The Bluff.”

But Byron Amos, the new city councilmember for the area, praised the new facility as the latest of several transformative developments in the English Avenue and Vine City communities.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

“Three or four years ago, this was an old rundown apartment complex that the city acquired,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “And here we are right now...Having a place where cadets can live.”

The building offers cadets 1-to-4-bedroom units on a first-come, first-served basis during their weeks-long process of training. It has three floors and a basement-level lounge that will be filled with gym equipment, and furniture to provide space for community meetings.

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Seven recruits moved into the building last night and more will come later this month, said Karen Rogers, director of development and community programs for the Atlanta Police Foundation. She said the facility would have cost $7 million to build, but several developers did the work pro bono.

After the city’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, some of the recruits toured the apartment for the first time.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta Police Foundation President & CEO Dave Wilkinson said his organization is also working with the city and developers to build up to 50 houses for the city officers by year’s end. So far, 25 houses are built or under construction, and he said the officers living in them can receive up to a $500 monthly stipend by participating in community events. when they report how often they’ve participated in events in their community.

Thelma Reneau, a lifelong English Avenue resident and treasurer of the neighborhood association, said she’s thrilled to see more officers in the community.

“I’m gonna get to know them,” said Reneau, 75. “I bake cakes, so I’m gonna bring them cakes and cupcakes.”

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