Built Environments #24: “I wish this was a…”

David T Howard Building, Old Fourth Ward

I’ve spoken about the David T Howard building before. I think that it’s an excellent opportunity for an affordable housing initiative. Before I proposed that the initiative be focused on elderly people raising children. It has green space, accessible public transit, a nearby senior center, and the fantastic Built Environment feature that is the Atlanta BeltLine and the Old Fourth Ward Park. (I do realize that it’s called Historic Fourth Ward Park. I will never call it that. I’m not going to be a part of the re-branding that accompanies gentrification.) The Old Fourth Ward is great place to live, and it’s going to get even better if you can afford to live in it.

The David T Howard building would be an excellent place for a community to try their hand at creating a community land trust in order to preserve it. We all know, that as soon as the David T Howard building gets sold to a developer, it’s going to be demolished, and it’s going to become expensive condos. However, the other option is creating a housing opportunity in the form of a community land trust. This building could focus on creating an affordable housing complex, specially designed for elderly renters raising children.

Howard Building Playground

The Howard building is an excellent candidate for the foundation of a CLT, as opposed to the other giant abandoned buildings in the downtown area, because despite its vacancy it has a strong and active community presence. There are hundreds of Howard alumni who love the building, respect its cultural and historical legacy, and don’t want to see it demolished. Additionally, there is already a community housing development organization, the Historic District Development Corporation, operating in the O4W area. I wish the Howard building was the Howard Community Land Trust. Creating that opportunity for renters would make Atlanta a leader in developing housing for those who are truly low-income. A community land trust would maintain one of the Old Fourth Ward’s best attributes, a community-oriented spirit.

Howard Class Reunion

Howard alumni gather for a multi-class reunion behind the school. Towering murals decorate the walls of the abandoned building.

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