Beltline to again seek developer for 20 acres near Westside Trail

Southwest Atlanta resident Matt Garbett points out an old canning factory in the abandoned 20-acre parcel of old brick industrial buildings called Murphy Crossing. (Photo by Bill Torpy)
Southwest Atlanta resident Matt Garbett points out an old canning factory in the abandoned 20-acre parcel of old brick industrial buildings called Murphy Crossing. (Photo by Bill Torpy)

Months after a major development deal was abruptly canceled, the Atlanta Beltline is once again set to seek a buyer for a massive property it owns on the Westside.

The site known as Murphy Crossing, which was once home to the Georgia State Farmers market, sits directly adjacent to the Beltline’s Westside Trail in the Oakland City neighborhood. The city and the Beltline see the future revitalization of the site as a key driver for economic development in Capitol View, Oakland City and Adair Park. Officials envision a mixed-use complex that could accommodate the possibility of future transit on the Beltline or a new MARTA station nearby.

In 2018, the Beltline first put out a request for proposals, which is a document that announces a project and solicits bids from companies who want to complete it. In this case, the Beltline hoped to find a firm that would purchase and redevelop the Murphy Crossing property, which is currently filled with abandoned brick industrial buildings.

Place Properties, led by well-known developer Cecil Phillips, was set to head up the project, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this year. But in early June, Phillips said he received a letter from the Beltline saying the deal was off, with no specific reason offered. Details of the proposal were not revealed publicly before the project was nixed.

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On the Beltline’s website, it states the RFP process was “canceled in order to reevaluate the impacts of COVID-19 and to receive additional feedback from residents.” Community members had said they felt frustrated by the process up to that point, saying there was a lack of communication and transparency about the process.

In September, the Beltline restarted the process with more community engagement and feedback from nearby residents, and unveiled the proposed parameters for the new RFP during a meeting Monday evening.

The new draft requirements are much more specific than the old RFPs. For example, it mandates that proposals include “living-wage, career-track jobs” and a “defined plan to prioritize hiring of Beltline neighborhood residents,” a presentation stated.

While the Beltline is eyeing the site for a mixed-use development, the new RFP is still fairly open-ended in terms of what that might look like.

Beltline leaders and residents discussed how the site would fit into future plans for transit in the area, including the possibility of a new MARTA station between the West End and Oakland City stations, and the proposed light rail line along the Beltline.

Beth McMillan, the vice president of community planning and engagement for the Beltline, clarified during the meeting that she hopes the development at Murphy Crossing would take future transit into account, but it wouldn’t necessarily house a rail station.

“We’re giving the basics and then asking developers to respond to that,” she said. “It should support the transit that is to be delivered.”

The Beltline will receive community feedback before finalizing the RFP. Invest Atlanta will also have to sign off on it before it becomes official and developers can submit proposals.

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