Small-Town Atmosphere and Big-City Convenience
by Muriel Vega
The area collectively known as South Fulton is found in thebottommost part of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. This 125,000-acre stretch, separated from the northern part of the county by the city of Atlanta, enjoys its own specific identity. And these days, South Fulton—which includes southwest Atlanta and the cities of Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Palmetto and Union City, as well as the unincorporated parts of this half of the county—is experiencing a resurgence.
Home to several renowned businesses and the world’s busiest airport, the region is also a beneficiary of Georgia’s aggressive push to lure the entertainment industry to the state. And its alluring neighborhoods, appealing education options and convenient access to Atlanta are making the area a natural fit for businesses and residents.
South Fulton’s more than 87,500 inhabitants, who take home an average household income of $69,765, according to the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, enjoy affordable housing options that are convenient to both schools and downtown Atlanta.
“Housing in the area is very attractive,” says Dyan Matthews, president of the South Fulton Chamber of Commerce. “You still get a lot for your money.”
New homes at Oakley Township in Union City range from the $100,000s to the low $200,000s. Two- and three-story homes at the Parks at Cedar Grove in Fairburn start in the $170,000s.
Throughout South Fulton, areas like College Park, Fairburn and Hapeville sport a peaceful, small-town feel with walkable neighborhoods and a live-work-play environment. Colorful neighborhoods like Historic College Park, filled with tree-lined streets and historic homes, and Cascade, an affluent community in southwest Atlanta, add to the area’s appeal.
Serenbe, a 1,000-acre sustainable-living community in Chattahoochee Hills, features quaint townhouses and cottage-style homes, shops and businesses. And Walton Lakes, a gated apartment community near Camp Creek Parkway, offers its own intimate environment with a cozy “Main Street” feel.
Those homes and neighborhoods are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to quality of life, says Fulton County Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards. “There’s no traffic congestion, an exorbitant amount of green space, a lower crime rate compared to other metro cities and counties, and [low] home costs.”
Education and Business
All public schools in South Fulton are operated by the Fulton County School System, one of the oldest school districts in Georgia. The county also hosts a variety of independent and charter schools. Woodward Academy, in College Park, is the largest independent school in the continental United States.
Business is growing in South Fulton, thanks in no small part to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, consistently recognized as the world’s busiest since 1998. The airport, which straddles Fulton and Clayton counties, is a principal part of the area’s economy.
“The trend is to build more activity and density around airports,” says Barbra Coffee, economic development director for College Park. “No longer will you see airports sitting out there all by themselves. The activity is coming in and around them.” Hartsfield-Jackson is connected to the Georgia International Convention Center, the state’s second-largest convention facility, and the Gateway Center office and hotel development, via the ATL Sky Train.
The area is also a major shipping and transit hub, with easy access to Interstates 20, 75, 85 and 285 and a CSX Intermodal Terminal in Fairburn. South Fulton enjoys service from MARTA, Atlanta’s speed rail train, throughout much of the area.
“The exciting thing about South Fulton is that we have total access to Interstate highways, the airport and rail,” says Edwards. “That’s attractive to people coming into the area, especially businesses, because those are three things that they use to move their goods and products.”
In fact, many prominent businesses call the area home. Hapeville is home to the corporate headquarters of Delta Air Lines and a Wells Fargo processing center. In July 2012, Porsche Cars North America purchased 56.2 acres for the site of its new U.S. headquarters. The former Ford Motor Company site is being redeveloped as Aerotropolis, a 130-acre mixed-use development with office and retail space, restaurants and a hotel. In 2009, the city launched a wireless network to promote tourism and economic development.
In East Point, plans are underway to transform Fort McPherson, a former U.S. Army base, into a development that would include the Georgia Science and Technology Park, a research center similar to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. Union City is home to a manufacturing facility for the biotechnology company Dendreon, while Palmetto hosts the Community Medical Center and a new Lowe’s distribution center. The recently renovated Palmetto Train Depot offers a banquet room and meeting space and aims to open a history museum next year.
Retail shoppers can visit Camp Creek Marketplace, with more than 100 shops and restaurants, and Greenbriar Mall, which features more than 75 stores and vendors. Last but not least, South Fulton is home to an EUE/Screen Gems Studios facility and Tyler Perry Studios, and numerous film and television productions have filmed in the area.
Arts and Entertainment
South Fulton hosts many things to see and do year-round. The Taste of East Point festival serves up food and art on the first Saturday in May, while the Georgia Renaissance Festival brings thousands of visitors to Fairburn each year for jousting, live music and other medieval sights and sounds.
The area is home to two outdoor music venues, Wolf Creek Amphitheater and Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood. The Southwest Arts Center in Cascade features classrooms, exhibits and a performance theater.
Downtown Hapeville boasts a unique public art program, consisting of giant butterflies painted by local students and artists. The Hapeville Arts Alliance encourages a vibrant arts community in the city. The Hapeville Depot Museum features exhibits, railroad and aircraft artifacts and archives from the 1800s.
In East Point, Georgia Soccer Park provides playing fields for youth and adult recreation leagues, while the Dick Lane Velodrome is one of the premier bicycle racing facilities in the nation. The Cochran Mill Nature Center in Palmetto features wildlife exhibits and hiking trails.
Whether you’re a young professional or moving with your family, South Fulton has something to offer everyone, with great education, affordable housing, a growing economy, a relaxing community atmosphere and easy access to Atlanta.
South Fulton Chamber of Commerce
Fulton County Schools
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Georgia International Convention Center