Atlanta BeltLine to get $2.3M city loan to build ‘vital link’ to Westside neighborhoods

A magenta line marks where the planned Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is to go.

The city’s economic development arm has approved a $2.3 million loan to build a “vital link” connecting the Atlanta Beltline to the Westside, an area that’s on the rise but where some historic communities are still suffering from disinvestment.

The Invest Atlanta board approved loaning Atlanta BeltLine Inc. $2.3 million in Westside Tax Allocation District funding so it can complete construction of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail in English Avenue and Vine City by February. The spur trail project is expected to spark economic investment in the long-overlooked Westside neighborhoods by providing them a direct link to the Beltline corridor. Millions of dollars in investment has already been made along the main Westside Trail.

Segment one of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is currently under construction.

Segment 2 of the Westside BeltLine Connector Trail would extend from Western Avenue to Law Street. The $2.3 million loan is expected to cover costs for segment 1 and segment 2 from Western Avenue to Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard.

The entire 3-mile Westside BeltLine Connector Trail is a partnership between ABI and the PATH Foundation and is divided into three segments. Segment one in English Avenue near the Georgia World Congress Center is already under construction. The $2.3 million would cover costs for segment one and a portion of segment two, ending at Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard because this area is within the Westside TAD boundaries. Cost for segment 3 is not yet known.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. requested the loan after a $150-plus million capital campaign by the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, the fundraising arm for the massive urban revitalization project, fell short this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The main Beltline trails have a variety of funding sources, including bonds and Beltline TAD funds. Connector trails and transit, however, rely on additional sources of funding, such as private donations and philanthropic contributions.

The Westside TAD currently has $15.2 million available for new projects with the remaining $58 million restricted to debt service, operating expenses and approved projects, according to Invest Atlanta.

The Atlanta Beltline is a planned 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, parks and transit along old railroad corridors that circle the city’s central core that would connect 45 diverse neighborhoods. At an estimated cost of $5 billion, it is one of the country’s largest urban revitalization and economic development projects.

By  – Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta Business Chronicle