Atlanta City Jail task force to hold town halls in November

June 7, 2019 Fulton County- Atlanta City Detention Center on Friday, June 7, 2019 on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. The detention center was built in 1995 and last renovated in 1999. Christina Matacotta/christina.matacotta@ajc.com

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

Credit: Christina R. Matacotta

June 7, 2019 Fulton County- Atlanta City Detention Center on Friday, June 7, 2019 on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. The detention center was built in 1995 and last renovated in 1999. Christina Matacotta/christina.matacotta@ajc.com

The city and several community organizations are holding a series of town halls in November to gather resident input on what the Atlanta City Detention Center could become.

The town halls will be targeted toward several interest groups in Atlanta and will have representatives from the Atlanta City Jail task force.

The first town hall is aimed at formerly incarcerated people and will be held 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on 504 Fair St. in southwest Atlanta. Other town halls will focus on youth, immigrants and the LGBTQ community.

In May, the City Council created the task force, which includes community activists and famed rapper T.I., to examine and recommend ways the jail could be repurposed to benefit the community. Ideas discussed have included  turning the property into a mixed-use development, a job center and a wellness center.

Che Johnson-Long, the community engagement specialist for the task force, said the group is still in the process of gathering data to come up with three proposals to present to City Council in February.

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The task force is working with Oakland-based real estate agency Designing Justice + Designing Space to come up with ideas for the jail, which sits at 254 Peachtree Street.

Johnson-Long said the agency has drafted three proposals, including one that involves demolishing the 471,000-square-foot building.

“Most of the feedback has been centered on refurbishing because it’s cheaper, and we want to take advantage of the bones of the spaces,” Johnson-Long said.

Estimated costs for upgrades to the jail building or demolition could be presented as early as the task force’s Dec. 10. meeting, she said. That meeting will be the group’s last before it presents findings to the City Council in February.

The task force has divided into three groups that focus on the building and what it could hold. They have spoken to local organizations that provide mental health services that could be housed in the facility, and have also met with Atlanta police’s H.O.P.E. team, a homeless outreach program.

“Their feedback is similar to people (who) work with homeless: It’s not enough to create a facility to just create beds,” she said.

The task force’s next meeting is 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at FanPlex on 768 Hank Aaron Drive.

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