2015 Progress Report

2015 was a big year for Sweet Auburn Works! Read more about the great work done by our four committees last year:
  • SAW strengthened its leadership by expanding its Board of Directors to 30 members to involve even more District advocates, institutions and property owners.
  • By year’s end, fundraising efforts resulted in $100,000 being raised to support operations and staffing of the organization. This support will allow staff to be hired in 2016, thereby formalizing the organization as a Main Street program.
  • Plans are confirmed and details are shaping up for the “Sweet Auburn Preserving the Legacy Gala” to be held June 2, 2016. SAW’s first annual gala fundraising event will honor Congressman John Lewis and Sheffield Hale and the continued revitalization of the historic district.
  • Community support continues to grow as committee membership expands and attendance at our annual Town Hall meeting grew to over 75 attendees representing a broad range of folks including property owners, business owners, partners and interested citizens.
  • SAW’s presence was elevated through the launch of a website at sweetauburnworks.com, as well as expanded social media activity that attracts more followers every week. Our monthly newsletters are now reaching over 500 stakeholders with news about the organization and the neighborhood.
  • SAW convened an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Atlanta District Council Technical Assistance Panel focused on developing a Retail Strategy for the Sweet Auburn District. The technical expertise from ULI is resulting in an action-oriented set of recommendations that will help address strategic questions regarding the evolution and ongoing revitalization so that SAW in collaboration with district property and business owners can make the District a more vibrant retail destination.
  • SAW co-hosted an Interagency Bankers Roundtable in collaboration with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). In an effort to bridge the gap between bankers and developers and local business owners regarding community development needs in the historic district, the event attracted 75 folks including representatives from 13 different banks and financial institutions to learn more about projects in the neighborhood.
  • Small business activity grew in the district with the 12 new businesses opening in 2015 including Condesa Coffee, Arden’s Gardens, Mbar, The Pantry, Chrome Yellow, Staplehouse/The Giving Kitchen, The House of Fleur, Barber’s Institute, Formulas Salon, Traces of Fiji, the Hair Lounge and Peaceful Clouds. Also, for the first time in its history, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market is now open on Sundays to serve the growing interest in their merchants.
  • LEAD Atlanta – Leadership Atlanta’s under-35 leadership development program – selected SAW for support through their cohort project program. The program participants will provide SAW direction on how to grow a small business and entrepreneurship program targeting African-American and minority businesses.
  • Redevelopment activity in the District increased in 2015. Big Bethel AME Church formally announced their redevelopment plans for their residential tower and adjacent parking lot and has entered into an MOU with a private real estate development team to advance the effort. Also, Sanctuary Residential broke ground on their 200 Edgewood Avenue project that will include 326 student housing beds, 4,000 s.f. of ground floor retail and 150 parking spaces.
  • Work was begun to the update the 1980's era Design Guidelines for the historic district. When released in early 2016 the newly digitized compendium will be a tremendous resource for the preservation and restoration of assets throughout the historic district.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded a $50,000 grant to the City of Atlanta. The site of the former Martin Luther King, Jr. Natatorium will be given new life to honor the legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King and other prominent female contributors to the Civil Rights Movement. The aptly named "Freedom Garden" will include a community green space featuring large-scale public artworks.
  • The National Park Service was awarded a grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to preserve five houses on the same block as Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home.
  • Many of the buildings and projects awarded funding through the Downtown Façade Improvement Grant program were completed or began work in 2015. In the District 12 projects received $896,265 in Invest Atlanta grants which will result in a total investment of $2.7 million.
  • SAW in collaboration with the Old Fourth Ward Business Association served a Neighborhood Champion for Small Business Saturday. Sixteen neighborhood business participated in a “Shop Small” social media campaign and used the hashtags #ShopO4W #ShopSweetAuburn and #ShopSmall to generate online buzz about their establishments and the neighborhood. Outreach about the effort also lead to coverage of the Sweet Auburn retail momentum on WSB Channel 2 News.

Sweet Auburn Works.  Preserving the Legacy
522 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta GA 30312    Main: 470-240-4909    info@sweetauburnworks.com