Archive for April, 2017

Retail space to create Atlanta jobs

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

The sale of a large retail space will create more Atlanta jobs.

The sale has been finalized for Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc. for $34.6 million. WRS, Inc., a real estate investment company based in Charleston, South Carolina, will redevelop the 12-acre site into a live-work-shop community with retail, hospitality, entertainment and residential space. The sale will result in $8 million annual cost savings for the City.

“The sale of Underground Atlanta is another milestone in the revitalization of South Downtown Atlanta,” said Mayor Reed. “WRS, Inc. brings a high level of expertise and strong track record of successful developments to an area of our City in need of a fresh approach. Based on the City’s track record with Ponce City Market, the Lakewood Fairgrounds (now EUE Screen Gems) and Buckhead Atlanta, I am confident that we will succeed in transforming Underground Atlanta into a vibrant component of our City’s commercial business district.”

Since announcing the sale of Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc. nearly two years ago, the City has facilitated and participated in numerous public conversations with stakeholders, residents and the developer. In their commitment to being an excellent partner for Atlanta and the surrounding downtown community, the firm has agreed to meet the requirements of the City’s affordable housing ordinance, regardless of whether it pursues development incentives. Any multi-family development at Underground Atlanta will include 10 or 15 percent units at 60 or 80 percent AMI – a tremendous opportunity for working families to live in the new residential development.

WRS, Inc. has also agreed to preserve a grid for public pedestrian and bicycle use on Alabama Street and Pryor Street; to share its written plan for community engagement to be conducted throughout the development process, which has been approved by the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, Inc. and the City; and to accept protective covenants which require the preservation of certain portions of Underground Atlanta that are historical in nature. WRS also agreed to accept the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) right to approve the master development concept plan for this project as well as any material modifications thereof, but only after public advertisement and opportunity for public review and comment of the modifications have been provided. These agreements will be memorialized in protective covenants and easements that run with the land and will bind WRS and future owners of Underground Atlanta. These agreements demonstrate WRS’s ongoing strong partnership with our city and with downtown stakeholders.

“Some years ago, the idea of redeveloping Underground Atlanta was evidently slightly unseen and more than a few folks were skeptical, including skepticism from our peers. Not surprisingly, popular sentiment has certainly changed in a favorable direction,” said Scott Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of WRS, Inc. “We have always been and remain strong believers in the potential for great things in downtown Atlanta and Underground in particular. The redevelopment of Underground is a truly unique opportunity, something that cannot be found anywhere else in the Southeast. For us as developers, this represents an incredibly awesome opportunity and we know that it also represents an equally awesome responsibility. We take both very seriously. Somewhat distinct from other projects in Atlanta, Underground Atlanta holds a special place in the memories of many people. We intend to undertake this redevelopment with great care, communicate closely with the neighboring constituents and most importantly we intend to create a new community that makes everyone very proud of this corner of the rapidly changing downtown Atlanta landscape.”

Hiring policies to affect Atlanta jobs

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Second chance hiring policies will affect some Atlanta jobs.

According to Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Yancy, Atlanta stands by its policy of prohibiting questions to job applicants about their criminal history during initial interviews, because in our city, we know that crime’s costs can’t be addressed with improved policing alone. Nearly one in three United States citizens has a prior conviction. Ninety-five percent of incarcerated individuals are eventually released, and this year more than 600,000 ex-offenders will return to their communities, including Atlanta and the metropolitan region.

According to a 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute, employment reduces recidivism rates. More specifically, the sooner ex-offenders are employed, the less likely they are to commit future crimes resulting in further jail and prison time. Through its policies, Atlanta has an opportunity to demonstrate substantive change in ending the cycle of incarceration.

Both public and private employers have chosen to ‘ban the box,’ prohibiting questions about previous criminal history until later in the hiring process. This gives ex-offenders the chance to get their foot in the door, and to be considered fairly among other applicants. Through this initiative, countless Americans have been able to reclaim their freedom and lead productive lives by earning the gainful employment so necessary to their rehabilitation.

Nearly twenty percent of all job applicants at the City of Atlanta have a prior conviction. By and large, employees with a past conviction are motivated and effective workers because they do not want to lose their jobs and re-enter the cycle of recidivism. They want to be productive, contributing members of their community, and their performance proves it.

When an employer adopts a second-chance hiring policy, it does not get to pick and choose which crimes make someone ineligible for employment; rather, per 2012 EEOC guidelines, the employer must evaluate the candidate based on the position they applied for, and this is precisely what the City of Atlanta does when evaluating all applicants.