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Atlanta’s Gated Getaways: Open to All; Closed to Some

Atlanta’s Gated Getaways: Open to All; Closed to Some!

Atlanta has some of the most beautiful and relaxing places to ever witness, yet not everyone will be able to experience them all. I have only been in Atlanta for less than a year, and in this one year I have not been able to do everything there is to do even if I wanted to, but I have been able to go places that I would have never imagined even existed, but even my close encounters, I realize that not every place is for everyone!


Well, here is my take, many people have moved to Atlanta for various reasons, including fashion careers, acting jobs, the music industry, the history of Atlanta, the urban environment and of course the hot topic, “Gentrification” which is “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” (Webster) But for whatever reason, Atlanta has become the place to be for people of all races. Even though there are diversified groups of people in Atlanta. One thing that many people don’t know is t1422897742-atlanta_gentrification_1990_2000hat, Atlanta is segregated in certain parts with certain people.



Here is a map that shows Atlanta’s division of people. While it may not be accurate with terms, it sure tells a story. Though we don’t always intentionally draw these lines, we help distinguish them by where we shop, where we eat, the places we go, and most importantly the places we don’t go. But of course, there is also a thing as “built environments”.


Architectures have a job and their job is to create and design functional buildings and places that serve whatever purpose is needed. Now, the question is: are some of the designs meant to keep people out: exclusion? That is the million dollar question. I would say yes. Through design, policies and requirements, this is what creates inclusion as well as exclusion. During my down time, when I can get away from my responsibilities and enjoy just a little bit of relaxation, I like to explore out into Atlanta’s attractions. Yes, I am a person who loves my relaxation. There is so much to do in Atlanta, I could go on new adventures every week, while I have ventured out, I have managed to see two brilliant locations, the Aquarium, the High Museum of Arts.  These were beyond amazing and for myself quite refreshing.  But one of my favorites by far has been the Chattahoochee Coffee Company. Such a serene and beautiful place off of the river, in a gated community, but still accessible to the public.

There is also one that I can only wish to enjoy due to my love for mini golf, The East Lake Golf Club. Why would that be? Well, But remember when I said, not every place is for everyone. This partially what I am referring to. You see, while many places welcome the public, or all people. Some places, like the Eastlake Golf Club, does not. Even though the East Lake Golf Club rests in the East Lake Neighborhood that in recent years, went through gentrification. During these times, Tom Cousins and a few of his supporters went through the East Lake Neighborhood and did a complete makeover. They tore down the apartment housings and replaced them with beautiful homes, brought more jobs, better education and child care to the area.charter-top

Many people can attest to the difference that this transformation had on their lives and living conditions. While some people were allowed to remain within their neighborhood, many were not. You see, this was a neighborhood of crime, usually referred to as “Little Vietnam”. Even police officers were afraid to take calls here. Between the drug infested streets and low poverty living. I recall reading the “The Big Discussion With Gentrification in Atlanta” article and I remember the interview that took place with Tom Cousins, and other investors who helped clean up the neighborhood. The mission was to bring about a change, completely transform the neighborhoods. This is exactly what they did and while they may have very well did everything that they did with GREAT intentions for us all, not everyone benefitted from this transformation. Many testimonies were given in regards to East Lake Neighborhood before and after the changes. One person in particular was Travon. He discussed his views on how gentrification erased the historical and sentimental meaning of the black culture in those neighborhoods, by mixing them or completely taking them over making them unrecognizable to what some used to call home. In regards to erasing the history built, the thing that was even more less fortunate was that lots of people weren’t able to return back to their homes after the neighborhood transformation. These new homes now had really strict guidelines as to who can stay in these homes, the kind of income they must have, drug tests of course, which I actually approve of, but overall this left many people homeless with no place to return. Imagine that.



East Lake Neighborhood is also home to the newly renovated and thriving Golf Club. The East lake Golf Club sits in the middle of the neighborhood now. When I first signed up to observe and do a built environment description the Golf Club I was very excited due to my love for golf. (I am no Tiger Woods, but I enjoy it like no other). Well, to my dismay, upon arrival to the golf course, I was met by a closed off gated community with a very strict gate attendant who not allow me to enter due to membership purposes and of course, I a person, who looks nothing like a golfer or anyone who would a membership through any major corporation was denied access. This took me by complete surprise, I was really liking forward to getting on the other side of that gate. But unfortunately, even though it sits in the heart of East Lake neighborhood, where right across the street is a spiraling down-hill playground full of people of color, this golf course was not for people like us. My first thought was, well why have it here? Here where we all can see it from the backyards of our homes, our children can witness from this trash filled, paint peeling playground and see the nicer things such as a PGA tour stop golf course and will probably never get the chance to enjoy it, as a child and possibly as an adult.



As I sat around, I teased myself by walking back and forth as I watched two upper class white men through the holes in the gate. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves on this particular Sunday morning, until I was caught staring. I felt embarrassed and further more as if I did not belong. I slowly backed away and sat in my car alongside the road to record everything that I had witnessed, the emotions I felt and everything that I could remember seeing through the gates before I made the golfers feel uncomfortable as well as I. all I can remember saying is “wow, this is beautiful and the grass is soo nurtured”. I knew that that place was a place for the elites and upper class people who could afford their membership through the positions they held. And I remember looking directly behind me, and seeing a park filled with African American children running and playing in a park that in comparison to the Golf Club was not fair, but it was all that they had.



Being in the midst of the Golf Course was an experience all by itself. But I was so refreshed when it was time to choose another environment, the Chattahoochee Coffee Company. Now, I cannot say that I was not disappointed when I did my research and found out that I had yet selected another gated community. (Big sigh) but the fact that I, and people of all races, and social classes would be allowed regardless of anything demo-graphical about me was a great relief.

During my built environment observation time, I had the pleasure of observing the Chattahoochee Coffee Company, as I mentioned before. This was by far one of the greater and relaxing times I have had since living here in Atlanta. Chattahoochee Coffee Company is located off of Akers Mill Road in the Walton Community Apartments. The apartments themselves are beautiful and freshly renovated. It is a gated community that you must dial in to before you can access the Coffee House on the river. It was the most serene place to be. I have now made this my little relaxation spot that I like to revisit through the week. Due to it being closed to the public on the weekends, which I personally did not mind at all, their public hours through the week are sufficient enough: meaning they are open five days out of seven which is pretty impressive and for that I am grateful. I sat here for hours taking in the breeze in the morning and the sun in the later afternoon.

IMG_2620 As I sipped my peach mango smoothie, I observed my surroundings which was filled with a diversified group of people alongside the river. This made me feel very welcome. There was a family walking along the river with their newly walking baby, a couple of college students huddled together studying, an African American guy listening to music as he read a book, and etc. The coffee shop attendees were very pleasant and made sure that everyone was comfortable and received the best service you could have asked for. I was very pleased with the environment. I just would have never imagined something so serene, I would have access to.IMG_20160309_135506

As you see, the Golf Club and the Chattahoochee Coffee Company were like night and day for me. While they are both great attractions, as well as many others in Atlanta, some of us aren’t lucky or privileged enough to experience them both or all.


Max Blau. “Creative Loafing.” Can Anyone Stop Atlanta’s Gentrification. 13 Feb 2015. Web. 04 Feb 2016.

“PBS Newshour.” Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America. PBS, 09 May 2015. Web. 22 Feb 2016.

Garland, Sarah . “The Atlantic .” Rich Kid, Poor Kid: How Mixed Neighborhoods Could Save America’s Schools. The Atlantic, 25 Jul 2012. Web. 28 Mar 2016. <;

“An Atlanta Neighborhood Tries To Redefine Gentrification.”Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity. Code Switch, 23 Sep 2015. Web. 04 Feb 2016. <;.

Built Environment Description


Chattahoochee Coffee Company


Here is a sign that is posted at every entrance of the Coffee Shop. It sets the tone of who and what is allowed on the premises. Although you may sit shirtless or in a bikini on the river, you can not enter into the shop without following the proper dress code. It is open to public, as long as you abide by their standards.


Although there are two locations to the Chattahoochee Coffee Company, this one lies inside an apartment community, so because it us open to the public, it would only make sense to make the environment advertising to bring in more residents. Pictured here is the order counter, menu and an apartment guide board advertising the area and providing historic information on the Coffee Company. As you can see the coffee shop leads to the leasing office.


The environment was very welcoming here. There was even music that gave off a getaway vibe. I heard one lady describe it as a “coffee retreat” lol  As you can see, I decided to take a sit in, after being welcomed in by the smell of sweet mocha 🙂 I decided to enjoy a peach apricot pear smoothie. By the way, it was incredibly smooth and delicious. I know, I know, its a coffee company, why not enjoy some coffee, but this day in particular was sort of warm, and the smoothie menu was quite irresistible.

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Pictured here are the three restrooms accessible to the public. I particularly wanted to see what kind of restrooms that they would have available. This is something that I very rarely pay attention to at all. I did notice that they had a men’s and women’s restroom and also a unisex bathroom (family restroom as we would call it) Given today’s society, Im sure this would make everyone feel comfortable being able to have access to whichever restroom the desire


As I sat here, I observed a different variety of people enter, order, mingle and leave. The environment was very welcoming and the baristas were very pleasant. In this picture you can see a few people who decided to come in on this beautiful day.I witnessed everyone chatting amongst themselves. I honestly have to say that with all of the media attention on racial issues, it was quite refreshing to see people of different backgrounds mixing and mingling, sitting having coffee and enjoying each other’s company. Sorry I didn’t zoom in, I didnt want to look too creepy lol.


As you look around in these picture you can see the modern touch that the place has. It was designed to provide comfort for all people, whether you came to sit alone and enjoy some quite alone time with a cup of coffee, or whether you came in for a group meeting or even social hour. There was just enough spacing between the seats for privacy. There is an open glass view around the entire coffee shop, I am assuming, its purpose was to allow you be able to see the calming river view, and to provide sunlight so that you can still feel like you are outside somewhat, and hey I am reaching far by saying this, but possibly allowing the sunlight to enter so that you wont fall asleep in the coffee shop (those who came to do homework, studying and such like the guy pictured here) By the way, the vaulted ceilings were beautiful, it created a dimensional and open effect, reminded me of a cabin.

Although this was a interior project, I could not just show you the Coffee Shop, but what was most appealing to me and all of my senses was the River view. From the outside, you can smell the roasting of the coffee beans that the wind wafted through your nose. On the outside you can see how close you can actually get to the river. the sound of the water was serene. This place really provided me a place of peace and comfort. Pictured here are a few different people, who came out to enjoy our first few days of warmth by reading books, listening to music, bringing their newly walking babies out for a walk and so much more. I even saw ducks, how cool huh.


Chattahoochee Coffee Company has two locations in Atlanta and one is located off of Akers Mill Road in the Walton Community Apartments which are beautiful, freshly renovated apartments. It is a gated community that you must dial into to gain access, which I personally did not mind at all. Although this place is open to the public Monday through Friday, it is closed and privately caters to residents on the weekends. When I say this place made me want to give up my house and get a lease on an apartment, I mean it. It is kind of tucked away, I have lived in this area for over a year now and without this project I would have never found this little serene place.

It is in the midst of the freshly apartments, so you just kind of blend in with the residents once you are out of your car. Before I got there, I did a little research while trying to find the address, many people who left reviews did say that it was a little difficult to access due to GPS not being able to find it easily, which I agree. But once I got there I didn’t mind having to search for it.

The coffee shop was surrounded by green pasture, the calming Chattahoochee River, bare trees and friendly faces who seem to be at peace, and I can guarantee the environment and coffee had a lot to do with it. By the way, the coffee smell from the outside was superb. I sat outside before entering, and there I found ducks quacking, people reading alongside the river sipping coffee and families taking walks. There was a mix of people in the environment, mostly middle class, that made me feel very welcome. Many people I saw were dressed in business like clothes, obviously on the go, just making a stop to their favorite coffee shop.

On the inside, there were exciting colors, like orange chairs, tiled floor, and even open river view glass walls that brought a modern look which is different from a boring quiet coffee house that you’re prone to falling asleep in. As I mentioned earlier, this coffee house was very well built with relaxation and peace in mind. Also they had the best smoothies ever, and I’m sure their coffee is even more delightful.


Annotated Bibliographies 4-6

Annotated Bibliography #4

Bracey , Trayon . “The Big Discussion with Gentrification in Atlanta .” The Lifestyle Room . 20 Jan 2016. Web. 24 Feb 2016. <

The Big Discussion with Gentrification is a topic discussed with Travon Bracey published by The Atriv Magazine in the Lifestyle section. This article discusses His personal experiences of living in Atlanta and how gentrification has affected him and black culture as a whole in terms of socially, financially, politically, mentally and also educationally.

He discusses his experiences in the East Lake neighborhood as a child growing up, he reflects back on his memories of living in these neighborhoods and all the good memories he once shared there, with the people, the inspiring graffiti walled art,(what we may think is gang related), just everything in the environment that creates black culture.  He discusses the differences in the community from then to now. He makes a lot of valid points in my opinon…

This article goes to show that even though Tom Cousins and other investors who helped clean up the neighborhood, bringing about a change, completely transforming the neighborhoods, may have very well did everything that they did with GREAT intentions for us all, but not everyone sees it that way and Travon is just one of those people who decided to speak on his views on how gentrification erased the historical and sentimental meaning of the black culture in those neighborhoods, by mixing them or completely taking them over making them unrecognizable to what some used to call home.

This article was an insightful, just to be able to read another side of a story of someone who views the former East Lake neighborhood as something more than a drug filled, crime raised, dead cop zone.



Annotated Bibliography #5

“PBS Newshour.” Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America. PBS, 09 May 2015. Web. 22 Feb 2016.



Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is described as a multi-platform public media initiative that provid​es a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. This article, which I saw as the complete opposite of “The Big Discussion of Gentrification of Atlanta by Travon Bracey.

This platform allows Jimmy Williams, who after prison dedicated his life to improving poverty driven neighborhoods, to tell his story on how he was caught up dealing drugs in the East Lake community. He describes the toughness of the town and the difficulties to succeed and how he succumbed to the streets and dealing drugs, which landed him seven years in prison and also gave him what he needed to be who he is today, to be able to help those who was once in his position and to prevent others from being there.

This platform speaks of positivity about the transformation. Through research you’ll see that there are several sides to how gentrification has affected its people who live and have lived in these neighborhoods. This article just shows that everything that Tom Cousins and the foundation, Purpose Built Communities, set out to do to improve not just the neighborhood but the community surrounded by them, did in many ways have a great impact on many people.



Annotated Bibliography #6

Felton, Carly. “Atlanta Intown .” Transformation of East Lake.Springs Publishing LLC, 01 Aug 2009. Web. 20 Feb 2016. <;.

The Transformation at East Lake is an article published by Carly Felting, who discusses the stats that made East Lake neighborhoods such a poverty crazed and criminalized place to live in. it gives a great visual as to why, when and how to why Tom Cousins decided to embark on the journey to transforming East Lake Atlanta’s neighborhoods, these neighborhoods that were once filled with drug dealers and lords, Tom had a vision and though it is was quite risky, it was the greatest endeavor yet. This article would we great for research because it puts numbers into the equations for greater understanding as to how rough and tough these neighborhoods were before the transformation. There are also statements provided from those who were born and raised, or those who did the raising of their children there, stating that being born and subjected to this neighborhood, they never had a chance.

The article discusses the  restoration of the golf course, building of new homes,  and the transformation of the community, it is very detailed with numbers and it ends with stats showing the outcome of Tom Cousins attempt to making it greater, it shows in numbers the percentage of children and families who now have a chance.




Eastlake Neighborhood Golf Club


This is the entrance to the East Lake Golf Club which sits back away from the road. This entrance is gated and only allows members access. Through research I found out that membership is by invitation only through corporations, and there is no individual memberships available. The entrance is very subtle and private, leaving no mistakes to wander in.



As I wandered alongside the gates, I found two Caucasian older gentlemen playing golf. The course is very private so me hanging around probably arouse suspicion. Walking around I did not feel as if I belonged. The guys, on the other hand seem to be enjoying themselves in this windy, chill relaxed environment.


Here is just a brief video clip of the golf course and the scenery it provides. In this clip, there is no sound. The only thing you can here is the wind rustling in the camera’s speaker piece. It was very quiet out which contributes to a very peaceful environment tucked away from the rest of the neighborhood. The only thing to listen to is the birds soaring across the sky and the squirrels ruffling in the trees above.


In this picture you can see the Golf Club house sitting upon a hill towards the back. It kind of gives a country feel with the trees blocking the view. The colors also contributes to the country atmosphere with the brown, forest green bushes and bare trees in the distance. It definitely is the highlight of the East Lake neighborhood.

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In these last photos, and every photo previously you can see how excluded the Golf Course is from the rest of the neighborhood. Fences surround the entire course. The area surrounding this is very closed in and private, the fences seem to provide more purpose than keeping the golfers balls from wandering outside the perimeters but it ensure no loitering or mistaken wandering access. The grass is very well kept, trimmed to perfection.

Description of East Lake Neighborhood (Golf Course)

As I observed the Golf course and its surroundings. I could really understand how it would be the highlight of the neighborhood. It is the oldest golf course of Atlanta, established in the beginning of 1904. It is in the East part of downtown Atlanta in East Lake neighborhood. It is a very well kept club house surrounded by nicely remodeled houses. Although the grass is not the greenest at this time of year, it creates a country feel with crisp cold breeze in the air with the smell of fresh cut grass.

The golf course sits away from the road with a gated entrance way leading to the club house that sits at the top of a hill being seen from the road but unfortunately not accessible unless you have a membership, which is by invitation only. It seems to only be useful to the elite class of people being that there only seemed to be older white guys playing golf on a Sunday afternoon.

From the look of the neighborhood, this golf course is not intended for regular individuals as myself, so walking around viewing the scenery made me feel out of place even though I was not in a place of danger. I received awkward stares that made me want to hurry and leave, but that’s when I realized that this is what I was here for: to find the exclusions where we think there are none.

As I got ready to leave the course, I realized how once I left the vicinity of the golf course, there were several black children and adults with their children at the nearby park that wasn’t as well kept. Although they seem to be having quite some fun. The park wasn’t the worst but it seemed to be in different world than the golf club, though it was barley around the corner. The benches were rusted with paint wearing away, and knocked over trash cans and such. The environment took a complete turn that I did not expect.

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Annotated Bibliographies 1-3

Annotated Bibliography 1:

“An Atlanta Neighborhood Tries To Redefine Gentrification.”Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity. Code Switch, 23 Sep 2015. Web. 04 Feb 2016. <;.


This article discusses how the east lake golf club that sits in a neighborhood that once was in the middle full of crime, poverty and public housing projects ,and a Golf course with dry patchy land where golfers risked the case of a stray bullet, but is now a PGA tour stop due to the redevelopment and Golf Club. The neighborhood was so full of trouble and crime that it was known as the war zone and nick named “Little Vietnam”. It discusses how the crime rate was 18 times the national average. The article talks about how the golf club helped reestablish the community by being a source of funds and support.  Although the intentions of the reconstruction was to create mixed-income housing to go along with schools, child care and jobs of quality article discusses how the some people were forced out of the new found transformed neighborhood due to certain requirements.

I think this article is important because it gives insight from the residents who once belonged to that community before the gentrification. This article provides so much history on what East Lake neighborhoods were like and how deprived and forsaken they were. It provides information on how the changes began and the effects of those changes. Whether good or bad, it gave testimonies on how it affected those looking for a stable safe place to live and raise families and also those who were forced to remove themselves due to those new requirements.



Annotated Bibliography 2:

Deirdre A. Oakley. “ASA Footnotes: A Publication of American Sociological Association.” Annual Meeting Premieres The Atlanta Way: A Documentary on Gentrification. ASA, Jul 2010. Web. 2 Feb 2016. <;.

This article is a profound talks about the first premiere of the documentary. It also discusses the contradictory effects of the gentrification of the Atlanta neighborhoods that has been taken place and causing the predominantly poor black neighborhoods more suitable for affluent white people who can afford the upgraded living areas.  It had great details about the purpose of the film with several interviews including Professor Deirdre A. Oakley. She expressed her opinion with great knowledge of what has been taking place in Atlanta residence. She summarizes her views of how this is creating a less diverse environment and how one sided the benefits are for those who can afford to remain or move to Atlanta.

She gives details and information about the writer of the film, King Williams in an interview segment that wouldn’t likely be found anywhere allowed him to tell his story and give us a view of what was in his mind when he created the film and what inspired him to do so.

This article is a great resource for capturing the highlights of the film and to get insight on what gentrification is and how homelessness and displacement occurred in our city. Through this site, there lies more information about gentrification and how it’s like a two sided coin and were only looking at the side that is turned up our way.


Annotated Bibliography 3:

Max Blau. “Creative Loafing.” Can Anyone Stop Atlanta’s Gentrification. 13 Feb 2015. Web. 04 Feb 2016.

Can Anyone Stop Atlanta’s Gentrification is a detailed article that has maps describing and illustrating the gentrification process since the 1990s and now the most recent map of 2015. The maps are vivid, well researched and informative.

The article provides a lot of documentation on what has been happening nationally to gentrify our cities.  The author states that gentrification is happening but it is also causing our neighborhoods to become more affluent driving out the previous residents that were predominantly black. The article begs the question of what is actually happening to those who previously resided in these project homes now turned lofts and condos. This also leaves us to the bigger question, is this really a good thing and if possible is there any way to stop the gentrification. This article has statements from Mayor Kasim Reed and other government officials and their views of the rapid gentrification.

This source provides helpful information on the gentrification and illustrations showing how Atlanta is gentrifying twice as fast than any other city in America. It also discusses census data for 50 of the nation’s largest cities, which was published by Governing This Month.


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