Case Study

Economic Development

College Park Georgia Transforms Abandoned Property Next to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport


College Park, Georgia is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

With aggressive tree planting and LID stormwater management systems, College Park transformed a blighted neighborhood.


College Park, Georgia

Humid Subtropical


African-American 82%
White 12%
Hispanic 6%

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, outside Atlanta, occupies a lot of ground. To clear flight paths, the Federal Aviation Administration bought out surrounding neighborhoods. Most houses were destroyed; in time, the 16-block parcel devolved into an urban wasteland. College Park eventually bought back the properties, intending to create a new business district adjacent to the airport, the Georgia Convention Center and several hotels. Some infrastructure was in place, albeit aging. But no stormwater system had ever served the neighborhood.

As the Obama administration began its first term, College Park applied for a stimulus grant to install an LID stormwater and irrigation system.

The plan emphasized trees planted in “filter boxes” as a means of reducing first-flush pollutants, including oil and grease, bacteria, suspended solids and metals. Features like this helped attract funding. Without the [filter boxes], “the project would never have been approved,” according to Jackson Meyers, city engineer for College Park.

Tree Box Filters Help Reclaim a Lost Neighborhood — College Park Georgia


• American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
• Georgia Environmental Finance Authority


• Structural and infrastructure improvements mixed both green and gray components
• Biofiltration key project goal — given nature of abandoned sites

Lessons Learned

• When natural disasters and fiscal stimulus programs create funding pools, make green infrastructure a priority
• Sequence project phases to allow concentrated effort on each
• Align with business development agencies

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