Revitalizing Neighborhoods: Atlanta's Inman Park

May 9, 2012 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a visit to a section of Atlanta that was known as an industrial wasteland of giant metal sheds, abandoned scrap yards and sprawling manufacturing plants in 2001. Known as Inman Park Village, this clustered location of dense infill development now anchors Atlanta's first streetcar suburb: Inman Park.

About Inman Park

Inman Park (proper) was planned in the late 1880s by Joel Hurt, a civil engineer and real-estate developer who intended to create a rural oasis connected to the city by the first of Atlanta's electric streetcar lines. The East Atlanta Land Company acquired and developed more than 130 acres east of the city and Hurt named the new suburb for his friend and business associate, Samuel M. Inman. Joseph Forsyth Johnson was hired as landscape designer for Inman Park who included curvilinear street designs and liberal usage of open spaces in his planning.

The Atlanta Constitution in 1896 grandly described Inman Park:

"High up above the city, where the purest breezes and the brightest sunshine drove away the germs of disease, and where nature had lavished her best gifts, the gentlemen who conceived the though of Inman Park found the locality above all others which they desired. It was to be a place of homes, of pretty homes, green lawns, and desirable inhabitants. And all save those who would make desirable residents have been excluded..." "It's the prettiest, highest, healthiest and most desirable locality I ever saw. Everybody is friendly and neighborly. There are no negroes and not a single objectionable inhabitant. And as far as accessibility it ranks second to no residence portion of the city. We have three car lines and frequent schedules."

About Inman Park Village

During the development of Inman Park, the neighborhood's west border grew into a heavy industrial area dominated by the Mead Paper Company and General Pipe and Foundry Company.  

Image courtesy of Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects, P.C. at

The Mead Corporation acquired the Atlanta Paper Company in 1957.  The plant produced various paper-based school and office products, including spiral-bound notebooks, envelopes and filler paper.  On November 5, 2001, the Mead Corporation closed the Inman Park facility, putting 215 employees out of work, after a merger with the Westvaco Corporation.

In 2003, the 21-acre former Mead Paper Company site was purchased by Atlanta-based Wood Partners, Inc., who had a vision for a potential mixed use infill community within one of the city's oldest neighborhoods.  Working closely with the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, Inman Park Village was created.

Image courtesy of Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects, P.C. at

The residential component of the development features 253 apartment homes, 68 urban loft-style condominiums, 22 row homes, 19 town homes, and 16 single-family detached homes.  In addition, 20,000 square feet of retail space for small shops along North Highland Avenue was included within the development.

This mixed-use project is part of the overall Mead site redevelopment in Atlanta's historic Inman Park neighborhood. Located on North Highland Avenue in an industrial sub-area of the historic district, the architecture represents a compatible evolution of the simple craftsmanship of the early twentieth century industrial and mercantile buildings found throughout the area. The collection of buildings on the Mead site represents an ongoing effort to revitalize and reclaim portions of this industrial area.

This six story post-tensioned concrete structure consists of 68 condominiums on three residential levels above 20,000 square feet of street-level retail. The retail space extends across the complete frontage of the building, providing residents of the building and the surrounding neighborhood with a shopping destination they can easily walk to. In addition, there is a "back yard" in the form of a wonderful park with a water quality detention pond that is accessible to the public.

Two below-grade parking levels connects directly to the residential units above, minimizing the impact on the site and public areas. A dramatic three-story lobby/plaza space creates a grand front door, which helps to activate the street. The fourth floor has a sleek, modern lounge area with an adjacent common outdoor terrace. Condominiums facing the street enjoy skyline views and a dynamic urban streetscape. Units facing the rear look over a tranquil park with a small pond and a large stand of mature trees. All of the units have balconies, which further integrate the building with the street and the neighborhood.

General Pipe and Foundry was located on the north side of Highland Avenue between Elizabeth Street and the BeltLine.  The land on which the General Pipe and Foundry complex once sat on is now home to Grinnell Lofts, North Highland Steel Lofts and The Shops at North Highland Steel.  Perennial Properties broke ground on the redevelopment of this 5-acre industrial site in Summer 2006.  General Pipe and Foundary Company's original office building was retrofitted into a restaurant as a part of the project.

The Grinnell Company once delivered a complete suite of grooved piping solutions for a full range of mechanical, HVAC, commercial, mining, institutional, and industrial applications.  Today, it's historic facade serves an entrance for the 24-unit Grinnell Lofts.

North Highland Steel features 240 loft apartments ranging from 600 square foot studios up to 1,800 square foot three-bedroom units.

The Shops at North Highland Steel feature 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, anchoring the heart of what continues to develop into a premier intown entertainment corridor.

The only original General Pipe and Foundary building remaining is the pattern shop which now houses Parish restaurant.

Before - 1999

After - 2011

In Town Jacksonville is littered with several underutilized former industrial sites just like Atlanta's Inman Park was a decade ago.  Building a sustainable Jacksonville will have to include viable solutions on how to repurpose these sites for new viable uses.

Article by Ennis Davis