Westside Initiatives take root, ‘but there’s a long way to go’
During a recent tour of English Avenue and Vine City, Frank Fernandez of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation highlighted numerous initiatives that have begun to take root on the Westside.
A former check-cashing business is being transformed into a restaurant. Several vacant lots have been turned into neighborhood parks. Police officers are moving into the neighborhood thanks to an initiative of the Atlanta Police Foundation. Westside Works has a new home where it is training residents in the fields of construction, heath care, culinary arts and soon childcare.
Blank Foundation’s Frank Fernandez, during a tour of the Westside, points to improvements underway (Photo by Maria Saporta)
There are so many partners, initiatives and projects are underway in the communities west of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s impossible to mention them all.
“There’s a lot of positive activity going on, but there’s a long way to go,” said Fernandez, who moved to Atlanta four years ago to coordinate the Blank Foundation’s efforts on the Westside. “There exists a tangible threat of gentrification.”
The Westside efforts were kicked off when the Blank Foundation announced a $15 million prosperity fund to be spent on revitalization initiatives in Vine City and English Avenue. In September, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank announced that it would be investing another $15 million in those communities.