Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, At-Word Program, graduates

Atlanta Mayor Wants Microsoft To Create Jobs Or Give Atlanta The Land Back

Microsoft promised to develop the area when the company came in, but without those promised developments, it is left in limbo.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is asking Microsoft to be upfront about its intentions for a 90-acre tract of the city’s land it purchased in 2021 that was supposed to become a hub for the tech giant.

As Bloomberg reports, these plans were put on hold in 2023. Microsoft’s reasoning at the time was that it was re-evaluating its real-estate portfolio after the global pandemic.

“We really want them to develop their property or offer it back to us so we can develop it,” Dickens told Bloomberg. “Even if you don’t know what you want to do, just let us know what you know you won’t be able to do.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, explained in a document that the land is crucial to its long-term development in Atlanta and has made no further public comment on the development of the land.

“We are still in the planning stages of the design, and though specifics haven’t been determined, it is our intent that this project creates wide opportunities and lasting benefits for the community.”

Wired reported in April 2023 that Microsoft’s campus, which is located on a tract of land containing two historically Black neighborhoods in Atlanta, was driving up housing prices despite not even being developed yet

That arrangement has left some in the community, like English teacher and owner of the DA City Hookah Cafe, Tim City, wondering what’s going to happen next. 

City, who is also the secretary for the neighborhood planning unit, located next to the 90-acre plot of land, told Wired, “You’ve got a lot of people that were truly invested in trying to get Microsoft here, wanting the jobs and resources of that nature. It’s at the point now where it’s like, are they still coming or not?”

City continued, “I still have high hopes that it can pull through. Being a business owner, I know how many opportunities it can bring for the community and how many lives it can change. Building a Microsoft HQ and hoping it employs a lot of people who are qualified in our communities, it would just be transformational.” 

Dickens’ office had growing concerns about Microsoft potentially abandoning the city in 2023. Michael Smith, Dickens’ press secretary, released a statement to Wired, saying that Dickens wanted Microsoft to honor its commitment to Atlanta. 

“The 2021 announcement of the campus had economic consequences for the surrounding communities,” Smith said. “This announcement of a delayed development creates uncertainties, and the mayor wants to ensure that Microsoft fulfills the commitments it has made to our city.” 

The reason that there is so much urgency from Dickens and others in Atlanta is that the area’s economy has depleted to the point where there are no grocery stores or pharmacies there. Microsoft promised to develop the area when they came in, but without those promised developments, the neighborhoods are left in limbo. 

Arthur Toal, the board president of the Howell Station Neighborhood Association, told Wired that he was concerned about what will happen to the communities if Microsoft never arrives. 

“The whole area is really a food desert. The closest grocery stores are more than 2 miles away. When Microsoft came in, they said they’d be investing in the community, putting in a grocery store, putting in affordable housing, as well as a bank and things like that. So the concern now is, what is going to happen now that they’re on pause?”

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