On the west side of Atlanta, Georgia, which lies along the city’s 22-mile walking trail and the city’s largest park, lies one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels of land within the capital’s borders.
Until last month, the 90-acre plot — located in the heart of several historically black and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, including Grove Park and Center Hill — was slated to become Microsoft’s new campus.
When microsoft announce Project In early 2024, local residents greeted the news with enthusiasm and concern. The company promised to set aside about 25 percent of the land for affordable housing and other community projects, and some were excited about the potential economic uplift in communities long ignored by investors. But others worried about rising housing prices, driving longtime residents out of their neighborhoods. Real estate prices in the neighborhood increased by more than 50 percent from 2024 to 2023, According to Redfin data.
Then, in February 2023, Microsoft told local news outlets Pisno Atlanta They indefinitely halted plans for a new campus, leaving local residents with inflated prices but none of the jobs and investment. The company has not listed the land for sale, meaning it is unclear when or if the space will be developed.
“You have a lot of people who are really invested in trying to get Microsoft here, and they want jobs and resources like that. It’s at the moment where it’s like, are they still coming or not?” says Tim City, the English teacher who owns the DA City Café Hookah Cafe in Grove Park. Seti has just begun his term as Secretary of the Neighborhood Planning Unit for Microsoft Land.
“I still have high hopes that he can succeed. As a business owner, I know how many opportunities it can provide to the community and how many lives it can change. Building Microsoft’s headquarters, hopefully hiring a lot of qualified people in our communities, will be It’s just a shift.”
Microsoft refused to answer recorded questions.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens contacted Microsoft to express concerns about the downtime, according to a statement from Michael Smith, Dickens’ press secretary. “The 2024 campus announcement had economic consequences for the surrounding communities,” says Smith. “This announcement of a development delay raises suspicions, and the Mayor wants to make sure Microsoft lives up to the commitments it made to our city.”
Over the past decade, Atlanta has fostered an unusually diverse and thriving startup community, with meeting platform Cal Friendly perhaps its most well-known success story. The focus of colleges and universities—including Georgia Tech, Clark and Spelman, Morehouse, Georgia State, and Savannah College of Art and Design—is a large and diverse pool of tech talent.
This is what originally drew Microsoft to town for its new campus, President Brad Smith In an investment announcement for the company in February 2024 in Atlanta. In the original statement, the company said it intended Atlanta to become one of Microsoft’s largest hubs, preceded only by offices in San Francisco and Washington. “We understand the impact of an investment of this magnitude on a city like Atlanta. It has huge potential, but if not done right, the downsides could outweigh that promise,” he wrote at the time.
Microsoft says it still plans to reserve about a quarter of the land for community use, but those uses don’t have a schedule. Drop off in Atlanta Part of the company’s broader cost-cutting efforts, Which includes laying off about 10,000 employees and re-evaluating the company’s property and lease contracts. Microsoft isn’t the only company reconsidering its future desktop plans; Amazon paused construction plans for the second and larger half of its new flagship project in Arlington, Virginia, in March, and Alphabet She will also reduce her office holdings.
Atlanta Councilman Dustin Hillis, who represents some residents around the proposed site, says Microsoft has not been in touch either before or since it announced its hiatus. “However, given its significant investment and the promises it has made for Grove Park and other nearby neighborhoods, I hope Microsoft will move forward with developing this larger piece of land — with potentially fewer offices, adequate workforce housing, and retail catering to the area,” Hillis says.
Since the 1920s, the neighborhoods adjacent to the land purchased by Microsoft have housed almost entirely an African American population. Nearly 100 percent of the residents of the Grove Park neighborhood identify as black, which is about three times the Atlanta average, according to to data from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Neighborhood Assessment and Goals for the Grove Park Community.
In recent decades, economic disinvestment in the area has left the neighborhood without even basic commercial resources such as groceries and pharmacies. In 2018, the median household income for Grove Park families was $23,000, and about half of all residents earned less than $25,000 a year (compared to less than a quarter of the population of the Atlanta metropolitan area). Between 2010 and 2017, the neighborhood’s population decreased by about 25 percent.
“The whole area is really a food desert. The nearest grocery stores are over two miles away. When Microsoft got in, they said they were going to invest in the community, put in a grocery store, put in affordable housing, plus a bank and things like that. So the concern Now it is, what happens now that they’ve paused?” asks Arthur Tual, chairman of the Howell Station Neighborhood Association, which represents one of the neighborhoods near the development site.
“Property has really gone up in value quite a bit, and that’s affecting people in terms of their taxes. It’s really having an impact, but we’re not getting the good things that we’re promised when something like that happens. It’s having a huge impact on people in that regard,” he says. .
Seti and other residents stress that the surrounding communities do not see Microsoft as a savior, but instead as a catalyst for much-needed investment. “This area will be flexible regardless, but we’d like Microsoft to be a part of that,” says City.
“Center Hill is disappointed with Microsoft’s decision. However, we believe that the western region will thrive and move forward and upward,” says Miranda Bliss, Vice President of the Center Hill Neighborhood Association, on behalf of the association’s members.
But local investors and politicians argue that if Microsoft isn’t going to develop the site, the least it can do is step aside so someone else can.
says David Cummings, CEO and founder of VC and Atlanta Ventures incubator and tech startup hub at Atlanta Tech Village. “90-acre plot near Atlanta’s largest park and transit stop that’s too good to leave.”