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Atlanta Public Schools to raze empty school in Edgewood area

Atlanta Public Schools plans to spend more than $400,000 to remove a “blighted” former elementary school in the Edgewood neighborhood. 

The district is working to prepare the former Ragsdale Elementary School at 187 Wesley Ave. N.E. for demolition, and then plans to demolish and remove the structure from the site. 

VIDEO: Previous APS coverage

People 2 People April 2, 2018

The cost of the project is $407,756. Demolition work will begin around July 9, the district said. 

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“While we have no current plans for the property, this action is consistent with the district’s goal of razing blighted buildings, which may negatively affect property values, safety, quality of life and the aesthetics of the neighborhood. We expect to complete the demolition and removal phase and the grading of the site by January 2019,” stated a district-issued written response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A side view of the former Ragsdale Elementary School shows removed windows and open doors as Atlanta Public Schools begins the process of demolishing the building. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC (Vanessa McCray)

That appears to be a change from what the Atlanta Urban Design Commission understood could happen to the property once the building was torn down. 

In an April memo regarding the demolition plans, the design commission’s executive director Doug Young noted “concerns” about district plans to donate the property “to the community or neighborhood following demolition.” 

“While staff finds the decision to donate the property to the neighborhood or other community organization commendable, there are concerns about the loss of Atlanta Public School property in a neighborhood that is experiencing rising costs for land acquisition. Staff suggests the applicant discuss how this property may be used in the future and how the loss of this property may affect future APS needs in the area,” the memo stated. 

APS officials said the district had no plans “to sell the property at this time.” When asked later if the district planned the donate the property, citing the city memo referring to a potential donation, the school district said it has “no current plans for the property.” 

The Wesley Avenue school building is slated to be demolished next month. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC (Vanessa McCray)

The one-story, L-shaped building was constructed around 1955, according to city documents. Ragsdale Elementary relocated temporarily to the site years ago, the district said. 

A nearly decade-old redevelopment plan for the Edgewood neighborhood described the then-vacant school building as “an attractive and proud structure of tremendous potential.” That plan suggested the site could be turned into a place for artist galleries, live-work spaces, community training, educational programs, or theater space.

APS is in the early stages of developing a facilities master plan, which will guide the district as it makes decisions about school properties while keeping enrollment trends in mind.

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