Summerhill is a charming residential area just south of Downtown Atlanta. Introduce yourself to Summerhill Atlanta. For almost a century, Summerhill has served as Atlanta’s cultural epicenter. Today, it remains a vital hub.
A neighborhood within a football’s throw of the new Georgia State Stadium, Summerhill is experiencing rapid growth like few others in Atlanta, along with the gentrification problems that come with any neighborhood through such dramatic change. The storefront carcasses of Georgia Avenue, which in the early 20th century had held a broad range of grocers, restaurants, and spaces for butchers and shoe shops, have been brought back to life by the likes of Wood’s Chapel BBQ, Junior’s Pizza, and Halfway Crooks Beer. All signs point to the fact that this is only the beginning.
Nearly a thousand new multifamily units are either under construction or have recently debuted within a few blocks of the renovated Major League Baseball stadium and its empty lots. Georgia State is moving forward with a $85 million convocation center where the school’s basketball team would play, while Aloft plans to build its first hotel south of Interstate 20 just north of the stadium. However, in a low-income neighborhood that has been neglected for decades, only a small percentage of the new housing has been designated as “affordable,” as judged by the earnings of inhabitants in the area.
It’s not unusual for remodeled, single-family homes to cost more than $500,000, and builders of brand-new homes often aim for even higher costs. Near the northern edge of the area, near I-20, a national builder is constructing roughly 300 units, all of which are classified as “luxury.” Atlanta’s first rapid bus transit project is envisioned as a three-mile loop connecting the city’s central business district, the Summerhill neighborhood, and the Beltline’s Southside Trail. There will likely be major changes in Summerhill within the next few years.
You would not expect it, but the low-key Summerhill is one of the oldest communities in all of Atlanta. It was founded in 1865 by William Jennings in the aftermath of the Civil War, and early residents included persons of African-American and Jewish descent. Two-thirds of Atlanta’s Jewish population in 1911 called Summerhill home. Clarke’s Chapel and Wood’s Chapel were both used for religious purposes. As a result, in 1865, what was then called Clark College became what is today Clark Atlanta University. E.P. Johnson Elementary School, which had its roots in Frederick Ayer’s Richardson and Martin Street institution, was located in Summerhill.
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