Rediscovering Summerhill: Community is undergoing a dramatic renaissance after decades of being ignored

Intown’s first story about the redevelopment of Summerhill appeared on Atlanta Intown’s website in September 2017 after the project got nearly $5 million in tax incentives from the city. Longtime residents of the neighborhood were – not surprisingly – wary of the intentions of development firm Carter and Georgia State University, which had just purchased the stadium formerly known as Turner Field for its nascent football team.

Shortly thereafter, a series of dramatic renderings of the redeveloped Summerhill appeared and there was more cause for concern. Glass office towers, apartment buildings, student housing, retail shops, and a streetcar running down Hank Aaron Drive predicted a future that would render the historic neighborhood unrecognizable. 

Of course, what are now called the “legacy residents” of Summerhill had been here before. Back in the early 1990s, the announcement that Atlanta would host the 1996 Summer Olympics promised a boon for Summerhill, but after the games left town, all the neighborhood had to show for it was the Olympic Stadium, which would become home to the Atlanta Braves for two decades before the team decamped to Cobb County.

Since Carter and GSU’s announcement, Summerhill has indeed undergone a renaissance. At the heart of this reversal of fortune – as it has been for nearly a century – is Georgia Avenue. The street was, and is once again, the center of commerce for the neighborhood. From the 1920s and into the ‘50s, Georgia Avenue was full of shops, restaurants, and supermarkets. When it was announced in the spring that Publix would build a 50,000 square foot supermarket on Hank Aaron Drive, it was headline news.

The Publix announcement was just the latest development in what is inarguably the warp speed revitalization of Summerhill. Georgia Avenue and its surrounding streets are bustling with restaurants, shops, apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes. A new bus rapid transit line (BRT) will soon connect Summerhill to the Five Points MARTA station, bringing even more visitors.

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By Collin Kelley, Atlanta Intown

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