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Reimagining Pullman Yard

The twenty-six acre industrial relic in Kirkwood could become a sports complex

Despite the pastoral expanse of Piedmont Park and the BeltLine’s burgeoning greenspaces, Atlanta ranks low on parks per capita, coming in at thirty-one on the Trust for Public Land’s 2013 assessment of parks in the country’s fifty largest cities. Conversely, Georgia’s at the top of the ranks for childhood obesity.

To help reverse those stats, a group called Atlanta ContactPoint has outlined lofty goals: boost intown park space, confront the flab problem, and nurture transitional communities by transforming old industrial sites into sports complexes. David Epstein, a Wall Street trader turned teacher and coach, founded ACP two years ago and has enlisted more than 100 disparate organizations—soccer clubs, developers, and law firms among them—as collaborators.

ACP has an inaugural project in mind: turning the state-owned Pullman Yard, a twenty-six-acre former rail facility in Kirkwood, into a compound with indoor courts and outdoor fields of durable turf that can withstand year-round use. Pullman Yard was slated for auction in May, but the Georgia Building Authority, which controls the site, postponed the sale at the last minute. The property, which last housed the New Georgia Railroad, has been vacant for six years. It was assessed at $16 million back in 2007 and valued at a postrecession $4 million this year. Epstein is confident ACP will eventually purchase the site. ACP has met with the building authority and the governor’s office. “People have asked, ‘Shouldn’t you keep this close to your chest so developers don’t hear about it?’ And we say, ‘This is perfect for our proposed use.’ We really want this place,” says Epstein.

In the meantime, ACP hosts “Play Day” events to promote youth fitness and raise awareness for its longer-term goals. The next will be October 19 at Piedmont Park.

This article originally appeared in our October 2013 issue.