By: Ann Almond
The city of Hapeville is situated between the city of Atlanta to the north, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the south, I-75 to the east, and I-85 to the west. It is this proximity, next to the busiest airport in the world, downtown Atlanta, and two major interstates, that positions this city as a desirable place to visit, live, and work. “The center of the universe from a transportation standpoint,” according to Mayor Alan Hallman.
Historically, the city of Hapeville was a thriving Tri-City (Hapeville, East Point, College Park) community, with many residents working at the local Ford Motor Company Atlanta Assembly Plant from it’s opening in 1947. The city’s historic Main Street (North Central Avenue) provided restaurants, retail, neighborhood services, and many evening activities centered around the city’s high school sports. Hapeville was recognized for its small-town charm and close-knit community. The plant eventually closed in 2006, and the community saw an associated decline in jobs, residents, and income-levels.
In recent years, however, the city of Hapeville is seeing new growth and development. Large corporate investments in the city include the Delta Airline’s headquarters, the Porsche North America Headquarters, and the Porsche Experience Center. Both of these headquarter offices sit just outside of the city of Hapeville’s boundaries, but bring nearly 20,000 employees to dine, shop and experience this small city, of approximately 6,700 residents, on a daily basis.
Mayor Hallman shared that, “Porsche has been a great asset to the city; having them come in and redevelop that plant has been very beneficial to the city and has also made it known that Hapeville is the place for corporate development.”
Hotel demand is high in the area also, due to the city’s proximity to the airport’s international terminal and the corporate headquarters. The hotel market has seen increased investment in recent years, with the new five-star Solis Hotel overlooking the 1.6-mile driver development track at the Porsche Experience Center and the runways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The city of Hapeville is a founding member of Aerotropolis Atlanta, a non-profit organization founded in March of 2014. Mayor Hallman serves on the Board of Directors.
Mayor Hallman shared, “The city has embraced an active participation in the Aerotropolis concept as we re-develop the south side.” Additionally, “We plan to continue to complete projects that create a more walkable, urban environment, with buildings fronting the street, improved streetscapes, and higher density residential, office, hotel, and retail; we just finished up a streetscape project on Dogwood Dr. and our new rail corridor project will improve the area that runs along the Norfolk Southern rail line.”
The Aerotropolis Atlanta aims to transform the airport vicinity into a world-class Aerotropolis, making the area more attractive to international corporations, logistics companies, and others that can benefit from proximity to the world’s busiest airport. Aerotropolis Atlanta includes businesses, local governments, non-profits, and other interested parties located in the area.
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) are also having a positive impact on increased investment in the city of Hapeville. The CIDs which cover 15.46 square miles around the airport, include portions of Hapeville’s office core, south of South-Central Avenue, termed the Corporate Crescent. The CIDs are empowered to fund beautification, public safety, and infrastructure projects focused on transportation and water within their district. This increased investment in Hapeville includes future streetscape improvements and gateway signage – building identity and branding that will help attract employers and residents to the area.
Another key factor in continued growth is transit. Currently, the city is serviced by MARTA buses. As MARTA looks to expand a commuter rail line to Clayton County, Hapeville is on the list of possible locations. The potential rail line would utilize existing Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, via a joint agreement with the rail company.
Mayor Hallman is a native of Hapeville and has seen a lot of business development come and go. However, he has a positive outlook for the future and he plans to continue to make Hapeville an economically viable community, that capitalizes on the small-town charm and small town feel within the metropolis of Atlanta.