His story is now Atlanta folklore, how a young, aspirational fellow with a simple yet outlandish idea could engender such change. Twenty years ago this month, Gravel turned in his thesis, which proposed that a loop of 22 miles of mostly abandoned rail lines be repurposed as transit lines connecting neighborhoods.
New details are emerging about a $350 million redevelopment planned for the Mall at West End, a project envisioned by a team that includes Atlanta Beltline architect Ryan Gravel. The city’s economic development agency Invest Atlanta on Thursday approved a $2 million predevelopment loan for the 12.5-acre project.
The Mall West End was built in 1971 and was once the place to shop for Atlanta’s African American middle class. The mall is now often overlooked as a shopping destination. Donray Von and Ryan Gravel want to change that. “I remember Peppermint Records, I remember the ice cream store, I remember Cherry’s…” said investor and developer Donray Von.
Invest Atlanta is now partnering with Von and Gravel’s development firm, Elevator City Partners. Invest Atlanta has approved a $2 million pre-development loan for the project.
On Wednesday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a partnership to help encourage socially conscious investment in Atlanta’s 26 opportunity zone neighborhoods, and to reduce the risk of displacement of longtime residents and businesses. A significant part of the partnership is a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Donray spent his first act building a successful career in the music industry, managing artists such as The Roots, Cody Chestnutt, and Outkast. Donray’s most recent venture through his recently founded Elevator City Partners is the redevelopment of West End Mall with co-founding partner, Ryan Gravel.
One of the first significant projects beginning to take shape is a revitalization of the aging Mall West End. … If projects like Gravel and Von’s are successful over the long-term, then it could be a model for others who want to invest in distressed locations in the city.
Closer Look’s Rose Scott recently visited the West End Mall to hear from developers Ryan Gravel and Donray Von, who have proposed a multimillion-dollar plan to redevelop the area with restaurants, storefronts and office space. Gravel, who is also known as the visionary for the BeltLine project, and Von, an investor, say their goal is to develop the area responsibly and with the neighborhood in mind. We learn more about the specifics of their plan.
For minorities and female developers, “access to capital has been the biggest challenge,” said Peebles, who has been an outspoken advocate for diversity in the industry. In addition to supplying capital, Peebles said his company will look at ways to support the emerging developers. Through co-developing or partnerships, he hopes the fund will “help mitigate risk and help them grow quicker.”