An Interview with Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative’s New Executive Director: Amanda Rhein 

Amanda Rhein
Amanda Rhein

November 15, 2018 - Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative received a Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) grant to quickly gain land along the Lee Street corridor through the creation of a revolving fund. This grant will help ensure that long-time residents don’t get displaced near the Westside BeltLine trail and Fort McPherson.

Say a little bit about the need to target property in the Lee Street Corridor.

The Lee Street corridor serves as the eastern boundary of the Oakland City neighborhood, which has endured decades of disinvestment and predatory financial schemes. Lee Street connects two major  redevelopment projects, the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail and Fort McPherson, which are causing escalating land prices and gentrification which will soon displace many of the neighborhood’s long-time, low-income residents. 

How will the SPARCC grant catalyze your ability to meet your 3 - 5 year strategic plan for the Lee Street Corridor? 

Rapidly escalating land costs due to these major redevelopment projects and other public infrastructure investments are driving the urgency to acquire additional land as soon as possible in order to maintain deep and lasting housing affordability in the community, and to help mitigate displacement of low-income residents. The SPARCC grant will allow ALT to quickly gain control of land along the corridor through the creation of a revolving fund to be used to place options on property along the Lee Street Corridor as it becomes available. 

This will enable ALT to: 1) protect the positive benefits of the Atlanta BeltLine through long- term stewardship of the assets created by public investment; 2) mitigate negative externalities of the Atlanta BeltLine by providing a hedge against private speculation, the loss of lower- priced housing, and the displacement of lower-income people; and 3) facilitate community engagement around the Atlanta BeltLine by vesting residents in the development and preservation of their neighborhoods. 

What has been the most exciting part of being part of the SPARCC collaborative? 

Participation in the SPARCC collaborative has facilitated an alignment of resources that allows for us all to be more impactful. Working in partnership with other organizations also helps ALT to better leverage our limited resources for the benefit of community. This demonstration project is a key initiative of the Atlanta SPARCC table and will serve as a catalyst for the work being done in the Lee Street Corridor. 

Tell us a little bit about how the Atlanta Land Trust and Enterprise partner together? 

ALT and Enterprise have worked closely together over the past several years to bring the project at 1901 Tucker Avenue in Oakland City to fruition. Enterprise funded the initial land acquisition, supported pre-development activities and has lead the project management team absent dedicated staff at ALT. Now that ALT has an Executive Director, we will continue to work with Enterprise to identify the additional financial resources needed to bring this project to completion as well as identify other partners who can support the acquisition of additional property along the Lee Street corridor. 

What next projects are you most excited about? 

ALT is excited to advance implementation of the project at 1091 Tucker Avenue and work to identify other land acquisition opportunities along the Lee Street Corridor to amplify the impact of this project. 

What do you think will change the most about the Lee Street Corridor in the next 5 years and how can the Atlanta Land Trust impact that change? 

The Lee Street Corridor is now being recognized by real estate investors and developers as a cost-effective alternative to other Atlanta BeltLine-adjacent neighborhoods (particularly given the location within an Opportunity Zone). This ongoing investment will begin to transform the physical environment along Lee Street.The corridor will become more pedestrian-oriented and new development and redevelopment of existing buildings will occur. This investment will attract new residents to the area. Without intentional intervention, many low-income residents of color will be displaced. SPARCC and ALT will continue to work to ensure that the benefits of new development can be both driven and participated in by community residents. 

What else should people know about Atlanta Land Trust? 

The mission of ALT is to deliver and steward permanently affordable housing proximate to the Atlanta BeltLine and other targeted areas in the city of Atlanta. The ALT will also create a favorable climate for community land trust (CLT) development, strategically assemble land, and provide fee-for service stewardship to other entities. ALT was created to maintain affordability in neighborhoods at risk of gentrification and displacement due, in part, to the Atlanta BeltLine, throughout the portions of the city of Atlanta directly impacted by the Atlanta BeltLine.

The ALT is spearheading the implementation of a city-wide CLT to: 

  • Provide low-and moderate-income residents access to land and housing; 

  • Increase long-term community control of neighborhood resources; 

  • Empower residents through involvement and participation; and 

  • Preserve the affordability of housing permanently.