Once the Georgia Dome is torn down, Home Depot in partnership with Arthur Blank’s Blank Foundation will construct the new Home Depot Backyard in its place.
The plans for the park were presented in a press conference on March 19 by Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank. The park will be a 13-acre green space and will serve as a space for tailgating during game days at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will be open to public events when the stadium is not in use.
The Blank Foundation, initiated the project with long time partners Home Depot to connect Westside Atlanta neighborhoods the downtown area. This effort will provide arts and cultural events, military veteran appreciation activities and community activation for Westside residents.
“Arthur Blank is one of our founders and we share a passion with him for the Westside. We also already partner on a number of initiatives together on the Westside, so The Home Depot Backyard is just a continuation of our support of and commitment to that community,” Amy Crouse, a spokesperson for Home Depot said.
The Blank Foundation in conjunction with Home Depot will be working with Atlanta Beltline, Habitat for Humanity and HouseProud to bring further development to the Westside community. Lisa Jones, Executive Director of HouseProud, praised Home Depot for the work they’ve done in the Westside area.
“Home Depot is our largest corporate sponsor, they give us funding to do no-cost repairs for veterans and for folks who live in southwest Atlanta. They’re dedicated to revitalizing the communities in the southwest area,” Jones said.
Frank Fernandez, Vice President of Community Development at the Blank Foundation said in building the park in the place of the Georgia Dome, Westside resident will be able to access the amenities and services provided to surrounding neighborhoods. The Georgia Dome had always divided downtown residents from Westside, but Fernandez believes the park is a means to change that.
“The physical and social barriers that once existed will be removed, unifying the people and places around [the] Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Fernandez said.
The Blank Foundation has provided support for the development of Westside Atlanta, supplying more than $9 million in philanthropic investments in education, green space and health to the neighborhood. Westside’s redevelopment, however, has brought up concerns of affordable housing, but Fernandez assured that the foundation is keen on breaking the cycle of concentrated poverty.
The foundation has set forth the Westside Community Retention strategic plan which identifies programmatic and policy solutions as well as other interventions that address gentrification concerns.
“Working to create an inclusive, thriving neighborhood that breaks the cycle of concentrated poverty is not a singular effort. It requires many groups working together to address the myriad of challenges we are grappling with. Concerns of affordability and gentrification are no different,” Fernandez said.
At the press conference, Fernandez elected Latonda Henderson as director of community activation for the Mercedes-Benz stadium. Come 2018 when the park opens, she will coordinate with the Home Depot Foundation and other nonprofit partners to develop community oriented programing for the Home Depot Backyard.
“We will finalize our focus areas and programming activities based on the input from the community. We are in the process of developing an approach that will allow us to gather feedback from a wide cross section of Atlantans so that our programs will serve the needs and interests of diverse groups,” Henderson said.