SPLC plans to kick off community outreach projects and initiatives, including improvements to Atlanta BeltLine access, new sidewalks, art installations and more
ATLANTA – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) closed today on a 2.5-acre parcel at 871 Wheeler St. in Atlanta’s Westside English Avenue neighborhood that will be the future home of the SPLC’s Atlanta office.
The Montgomery, Alabama-based SPLC has had an office in Atlanta since 2006, and construction on the new campus is projected to begin in the second half of 2025. However, the SPLC intends to begin site improvements immediately, including updating access to the Atlanta Westside BeltLine Connector trail and investing in new sidewalks, streetscapes and other accessibility and safety improvements to benefit the community. The SPLC is also planning cultural and artistic collaborations as it continues to build partnerships with the neighborhood, residents and visitors.
“We selected the Westside because it’s important that our new Atlanta office is centered in the communities we work alongside,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the SPLC. “As we continue to think about what it means to build community power in Atlanta and throughout the South, along with organizing and innovating in collaboration with our partners, neighbors and other community-based organizations, we believe the Westside campus will provide us the opportunity for significant positive impact in the area while honoring its rich legacy of mobilizing for racial justice.”
Atlanta’s Westside contains six of Georgia’s 10 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and was home to many prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the SPLC’s first president, Julian Bond.
The new Atlanta campus site, brokered by Avison Young representative Kirk Rich, was selected after a lengthy search in the Westside. The design and usages for the space will align with the organization’s vision and mission, which puts community engagement at the center of our work.
Once completed, the new campus will include spaces to support community groups and Westside residents through programming, such as youth and adult education opportunities, affordable commercial spaces for local entrepreneurs of color, free event space and other community-minded resources.
“Pursuing racial justice and advancing human rights for all require a comprehensive, multifaceted approach that begins with strong partnerships at the local and community levels,” Huang continued. “We look forward to working with community leaders, organizations and residents as we develop our new Atlanta property.”
Earlier this year, consistent with the SPLC’s priorities of uplifting Black communities and eradicating poverty and racial economic inequality, SPLC donated $2 million to Quest CDC to help build affordable housing for older adults in Atlanta’s Westside. The organization also supported multiple annual community events, including the 2023 Festival of Lights in Vine City, which celebrates the legacy and vitality of the historic community, and the Ride for the Westside, hosted by Westside Future Fund and Quest CDC, which raises funds to support efforts to equitably revitalize the neighborhood into a place Dr. King would be proud to call home.
In addition to sidewalk and accessibility improvements, the organization’s initial plans for the site of the Atlanta campus also include the installation of a decorative sculpture fence around the parcel’s existing cell tower, which will face the Westside BeltLine Connector trail. Michelle Browder, a Montgomery, Alabama-based artist and activist, has been commissioned to create the fence.
The SPLC is planning to host and partner with other organizations on days of service in the Westside in 2024 to continue the momentum of co-creating meaningful collaborations and responding to community needs and priorities.