Ryan Gravel has joined forces with African American venture capitalist Donray Von to launch an opportunity zone fund that plans to differentiate itself by creating ‘a company that combines real estate and economic development from project conception to completion’. The venture is named Elevator City Partners (ECP) and has Atlanta’s West End Mall under contract, as its inaugural project.
The duo has planned a mixed-use development at the 12-acre site originally built in 1971. The project will include office, residential (affordable & market rate), retail, hotels and public green spaces. ECP plans for the development to become a ‘Technology and Media Hub’ by targeting entertainment divisions of global companies that produce TV and film in Atlanta and surrounding areas which adds a reported $9.5 Billion and 92 thousand jobs to the state wide economy. Additionally, ECP will target technology companies that are seeking a more diverse workforce. As USA Today noted, 1 in 4 technology jobs in Atlanta are held by African Americans.
The Governor says in the fiscal year that just wrapped up at the end of June, Georgia saw a record 455 features filmed. That led to $2.7 billion in spending, and an estimated $9.5 in total economic impact.
The state provided this data in its press release: “According to the Motion Picture Association of America, the motion picture and television industry is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages in Georgia, including indirect jobs and wages.”
One in four tech workers in the Atlanta metropolitan area are African-American, significantly more than San Jose, California, where 2.5 percent of the tech workforce is black, and San Francisco, where 6.4 percent of the tech workforce is black, according to a Brookings Institution study on black and Hispanic under-representation in the industry.
The partners also plan to launch a $15M+ economic development fund to address displacement and support minority owned businesses. ECP believes creating the physical space and the financial structure needed to support both natives and newcomers in each stage of the project will do more than maximize profits, it will allow the full spectrum of citizens, community businesses, and national brands to participate in the city’s next phase of growth and prosperity.
The historic West End district is one of the most important neighborhoods in Atlanta due to its adjacency to the Atlanta University Center’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta University & Morehouse School of Medicine) and its cultural importance. The West End has been voted as one of the top neighborhoods in Atlanta.