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SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER TO CREATE COMMUNITY-CENTERED COMPLEX WITH PLANNED MOVE TO ATLANTA BY 2024

The organization that fights for racial justice plans to issue an RFP for developers and partners to create a new 60,000 SF Atlanta office that accommodates forecasted growth and is more accessible to communities of need

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-government organization (NGO) that acts as a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, announced it is releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) today seeking partners for a planned 60,000 sq. ft. community-centric office complex in the metro Atlanta area.

The RFP seeks proposals and partnerships for using SPLC’s new office building as a tool to enliven the neighborhood and support the work of area community organizations and nonprofits. Respondents interested in participating can submit their proposal October 12 to November 29.

Between 2019 and 2020, the SPLC staff and board of directors conducted an intensive strategic planning process resulting in an updated mission, vision and value statement. Included in that process was the goal to be more centered in and engaged with communities. When the lease on SPLC’s current space in Decatur was being reviewed, SPLC’s new president and chief executive officer Margaret Huang saw this as a rare opportunity to rethink how the organization uses its facilities, viewing them as a potentially powerful tool for advancing its mission.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has been fighting for civil rights and racial justice for more than 50 years — and more than a decade of our work has been championed right here in Georgia,” said Margaret Huang, president and chief executive officer of SPLC. “Our new community-centric complex will be more accessible and inviting than ever before.

Huang continued, “As we re-imagine SPLC 50 years from now, we see a real opportunity to increase our organization’s visibility in Atlanta and be more connected to the communities we serve. We are interested in relocating to an area that is prime for growth, diverse and culturally inclusive. And we look forward to working with individuals and organizations in the community who share our commitment to dismantling white nationalism, eradicating poverty, protecting voting rights as well as advocating for the decarceration and decriminalization of Black and Brown people.

SPLC has partnered with Avison Young’s Capital Markets principal Kirk Rich on this project because of his deep nonprofit work in Atlanta, including assisting Families First with a similar relocation from Midtown to Vine City.

SPLC’s Atlanta office currently employs 90 people, 50% of whom commute to work using MARTA train service. With plans to grow to 140 employees by 2024, SPLC not only wanted to look for new space to accommodate its growth — the SPLC expects to be at its new location for at least 20 years. The organization is exploring locations that will provide employees with MARTA access as well as a new parking structure for staffers and the local community.

“We plan to make the RFP parameters broad to provide potential developers, development partners, and nonprofit organizations with enough latitude to creatively envision a complex that positively impacts the community,” said Kirk Rich, Agency Leasing Group principal - Avison Young and real estate consultant for SPLC. “Our focus is on partnering with the community and we’ve begun our due diligence by speaking with several area NGOs to understand lessons learned and gain added guidance on what to include in the RFP. Ultimately, SPLC hopes to create a complex where, for example, the entire first floor will be accessible to the community for events, education and more at no cost,” he added.

Once the RFPs are submitted, a team of SPLC staff, board members, and Kirk Rich with Avison Young will review the responses and determine a set of finalists. The goal will be to identify potential partners by the end of 2021 or early 2022.