Feb 7, 2023 - Business

Residents weigh in on Microsoft's decision to halt project

microsoft halt

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Atlanta's west side residents say they were surprised to learn that Microsoft will halt plans to build a new campus on 90 acres in the Grove Park community.

Driving the news: First reported last week by Bisnow, Microsoft says it made a decision to pause development on the land due to the current economic climate.

  • The tech giant also laid off 10,000 people and said it will evaluate its real estate footprint around the world "against how our employees are working today."

Why it matters: Microsoft's 2021 announcement that it would invest in Atlanta's west side brought renewed interest in a part of town that’s historically been neglected by big-name companies.

What they're saying: Dr. Jasmine Hope, chair of Atlanta's Neighborhood Planning Unit-K, which includes several communities on the west side, told Axios the company did not inform residents of its decision to stop the project.

  • "Microsoft claimed that they were for community engagement, and they want to make sure that they're listening to us," she said. "But communication goes both ways, and I feel like this wasn't very transparent of them."

Threat level: Gavin McGuire, executive director of the Grove Park Foundation, which aims to revitalize the neighborhood and improve residents' quality of life, told Axios he didn't think Microsoft's decision will make other companies hesitant about investing in Grove Park.

  • "Microsoft was almost like a supplement to the plan," he said of efforts to build affordable housing units in the community and provide homeownership opportunities to residents. "They weren't the end all be all panacea, as I like to say. We'll continue our work to…make sure that our community has the things they need to continue to thrive."

The big picture: Mayor Andre Dickens also reached out to Microsoft leaders to express his concern.

  • "The 2021 announcement of the campus had economic consequences for the surrounding communities,” city spokesperson Michael Smith told Axios.
  • "This announcement of a delayed development creates uncertainties, and the mayor wants to ensure that Microsoft fulfills the commitments it has made to our city."

What we're watching: Microsoft says it still plans to set aside a quarter of the property for the community. The company also said it will continue with plans to build three data centers in Fulton and Douglas counties.

Go deeper: Bank invests $20 million to revitalize Atlanta neighborhood

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