In order to help entrepreneurs with affordable retail and office space, MARTA and Invest Atlanta have launched a new business development hub next to the Hamilton E. Holmes MARTA station.
The unique iVillage@MLK, which is made up of 14 re-purposed shipping containers, opened last week. Officials say it’s the first of its kind in the state.
The 6,500 square-foot development has eight tenants, including a coffee shop, a florist, and a frozen treats shop.
MARTA will also sponsor an artist in residence who will have a studio at one of the units. The development sits atop 155 under-utilized parking spaces and is expected to generate between 20 and 25 jobs to the area, according to Invest Atlanta.
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The project is also part of MARTA’s efforts to provide transit-oriented retail and living spaces — more commonly called transit-oriented developments — that are easily accessible to employees and residents.
In 2016, Atlanta was awarded a $10 million federal grant to improve the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which has been targeted by the city to spur economic development.
“MARTA owns land around its stations and we are charged with — in cases where lands are no longer needed for transit — finding a better use for them,” said Jacob Vallo, MARTA’s senior director of transit-oriented development.
Vallo said MARTA has 13 of those projects either completed or in the pipeline, including 153 affordable housing units being built near Edgewood/Candler Park and King Memorial MARTA stations. The transit system is also seeking a developer for a 1.5-acre property near North Avenue station.
“It is this type of forward-thinking, collaboration and commitment that moves communities forward,” said Jeffery Parker, MARTA’s CEO.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms attended the opening on Aug. 27.
The iVillage@MLK concept has been popular in other U.S. cities, including Las Vegas and San Francisco. Alicia Gibbons, the owner of Fruity Ice Treats in the iVillage, told Channel 2 Action News the venture has allowed her to do business from one location.
“Instead of just being a weekend business, now I’m a full-time business,” she said.
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