When I moved back into the city in 2000, my first apartment was at the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts in Cabbagetown. While my apartment faced Oakland Cemetery, you couldn’t miss all the 18 wheelers rumbling up Boulevard or the boom-clang-screech coming from Hulsey Yard, which sat just behind the lofts.
Some nights, we’d sit on the roof top deck and watch the trucks coming and going and CSX trains arriving with their shipments of cargo containers. Eventually, the sounds from the yard became part of the sonic fabric of the neighborhood and I hardly noticed them.
Even when I moved over to Highland Avenue, when the wind was right, I could still hear the trains and sounds from the yard. I cannot imagine how silent it must be at the lofts now that CSX has closed Husley Yard.
While CSX has announced no plans to sell Husley Yard, the communities that stretch along its 70 linear acres – Cabbagetown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Reynoldstown – are proactively taking steps to create a master plan for the property. Lord Aeck Sargent is drafting a plan that envisions a significant greenspace with room for homes and retail but an appropriate density.
There’s also the question of getting the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail across the yard. Currently, the trail uses Krog Street Tunnel to connect in Cabbagetown, but there’s no way a future streetcar or other light rail transit will fit.
If I could wave my magic wand, I’d transform Hulsey Yard into a park with affordable housing. Do we actually need a new “neighborhood” with more retail and offices? I don’t think so.
In a study by the Federal Reserve Bank and University of Chicago, Atlanta was ranked the 4th fastest-gentrifying city in America. That means buying a home or renting an apartment Intown moves further and further out of reach for many people. The City of Atlanta recently created an action plan for affordable housing, which you can read more about at this link. Perhaps Hulsey Yard could be the centerpiece of that effort when CSX decides to sell.