T.I. Revitalizes His Old Neighborhood Through New Real Estate Ventures: 'There's No Fresh Produce, There Are Liquor Stores'
The Atlanta-based rapper is on a mission to help the people who live in his old community.
Atlanta rapper T.I. has partnered with fellow rapper Killer Mike to create a series of real estate projects aimed at helping black Atlanta residents.
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Growing up in the 1980s and '90s, Clifford "T.I." Harris saw firsthand what the crack epidemic did to black people. Homes and families ravaged by addiction. Mass incarceration and violence killed off so many. In a recent interview with business magazine Inc., T.I. revealed his plans to create affordable housing and a grocery store in his old neighborhood.
"Back then, that part of town was considered the lower end of the middle class. After the crack era, the community stalled, and from 1994 to 2012, it became an extremely desolate area for business," he told Inc. "There's no major grocery store chain. There's no fresh produce. There's no CVS. There are liquor stores."
There was nothing but a food desert and cheap foodstuffs that keep the residents drunk and fat. Housing and job opportunities were also scarce.
Atlanta, over recent years, has seen its population grow increasing the need for new attractions, more housing and jobs, but these revitalization efforts have targeted mostly white people and overwhelmingly left out poor, black ATLiens.
"Now, with the BeltLine and Mercedes-Benz Stadium a stone's throw away, there's an incentive to redevelop. But I didn't want it to be one of those situations where luxury condos go up, and people who are native are pushed out to the fringes because they can't afford to live there," he said. "I wanted to provide development that would allow people from the area, who love the community, to be able to afford to stay."
He bought six buildings, an abandoned grocery store and plans on buying corner lots that will spur revitalization.
"The cornerstone of wealth is home ownership. It does something for the psyche of a person to know that all of the work they do comes back to this. A lot of the buildings I've bought, we're turning into mixed-use housing. One of the smaller residential projects will hopefully be ready by the end of 2019."
Affordability is a key incentive. Around the end of 2019, T.I. wants to have a residential property with at least 100 units. But T.I.'s commitment to his old stomping grounds does not stop there. He and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms are working together to create jobs in the area, as well.