Who would know Home Depot better than the residents of Atlanta, the company’s hometown. Despite Agent Orange’s hometown feeling, residents are fighting hammer and nail to keep Home Depot out. The neighborhoods of Berkeley Park, Loring Heights, Underwood Hills, Collier Hills, Springlake, Wildwood, Bolton and Hills Park have banded together to form the Northwest Community Alliance. Richard Arnold, a member of the Berkeley Park Neighborhood Association, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the threat of a 137,000 s.f. Home Depot, plus a second 120,000 s.f. retailer and a 3 story parking garage, galvanized neighbors to plan for the future. “This is just the catalyst for the Northwest Alliance to start working on long range planning…it’s a good time to look at smart growth. We now have the motivation to do something great for this area, but if we allow Home Depot to come in here, that vision is shot out of the saddle.” Members of the Alliance have been actively approaching local officials asking them to reject big box retailers in preference for a mixed used plan of residential and small businesses. “We’d like Home Depot to back out and promote the property as something that would be neighborhood, pedestrian, and family friendly. We already have three Home Depots within 10 minutes of us…” Home Depot has responded to this unfriendly greeting in its home town by saying “we intend to keep talking to the neighbors. We want people to shop our stores and don’t want to go in as an uncaring retailer.” What Home Depot doesn’t seem to care about is that it wants to locate a huge, windowless box in the middle of a neighborhood that was built in the 1920s and 30s and is working on National Register of Historic Places designation. Another resident told the Journal Constitution: “We know that land is going to be developed, but we were hoping it would be something with a more positive impact, maybe small shops, condos, some greenspace and sidewalks. But we’ve been told we can’t fight Home Depot. I’m sure they have a big influence at City Hall with their high-powered, prominent attorneys. I don’t know how much of an impact citizens can make, but we’re going to try.”
Richard Arnold told me that local residents heard about this project in late June from a consultant representing Home Depot. The eight-neighborhood alliance represents 3,000+ single-family homes. For more information about the Northwest Community Alliance, and its battle against Home Depot, contact [email protected], or [email protected] Even on its home turf, Home Depot has angered residents into active opposition.