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Famed Racial Justice Organization On The March For New Atlanta Office

Southern Poverty Law Center CEO Margaret Huang, who is looking to engage more with the Atlanta community through a new regional headquarters.

A nonprofit on the frontlines of combating racial injustice and inequity is on the hunt for a new regional headquarters in Metro Atlanta, targeting areas where gentrification or poverty are rampant.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has tapped Avison Young principal Kirk Rich to search for sites in Metro Atlanta that could accommodate a 60K SF build-to-suit office complex that would accommodate up to 140 employees by 2024. The Montgomery, Alabama-based SPLC has been in a decades-long fight to dismantle white supremacy and monitor hate group activity throughout the U.S. while advancing human rights initiatives.

For safety reasons, the SPLC doesn't disclose its current office, but it leases 35K SF in a multi-tenant building in Decatur with a lease that expires in 2024, Rich told Bisnow. The new location — where it plans to stay for at least 20 years — would be outfitted with security measures, allowing the SPLC to be more open about its offices, he said.

As the SPLC broadens its community service activities, it plans to create an office environment that is more than a place to house its workers. In conjunction with the real estate search, the nonprofit issued a request for proposals, seeking to partner with community organizations and neighborhood activist groups to potentially co-locate at the new facility.

“We want anyone and everyone who is doing good work in uplifting communities,” Rich said. “This is a new concept where these will be larger, regional headquarters, and it's much more community- and mission-driven.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center's headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama.

The SPLC is looking at incorporating free meeting space and WiFi for community organization use, ground-level retail and commercial space to bring needed services to a community or a food hall for Black, Indigenous and People of Color-owned eateries, according to the RFP.

The SPLC is seeking to buy between 2 and 10 acres. While wide open right now, the search for regional headquarter sites is focused on areas of Atlanta experiencing gentrification or where there is a dearth of community support services, Rich said.

While the potential cost to develop the facility was not disclosed, Rich said the SPLC was "already well-funded to pursue any large and impactful acquisition."

Another key component: Sites need to be within walking distance to a MARTA station. Half of the SPLC's 90 Atlanta-based employees use the Atlanta mass transit system to commute to work, according to a press release. But the SPLC also is looking to build a parking structure for staffers and the local community on its property.

“Given the specialty of what we need, it is probably going to be a location or a site where we can then develop the concept of a building or a campus,” Rich said.

In a press release, SPLC CEO Margaret Huang said the new “community-centric complex” would be accessible and inviting to the local community as a way to broaden the organization's visibility and involvement in the Atlanta region.

“We are interested in relocating to an area that is prime for growth, diverse and culturally inclusive,” Huang said in the release. "And we look forward to working with individuals and organizations in the community who share our commitment to dismantling white nationalism, eradicating poverty, protecting voting rights as well as advocating for the decarceration and decriminalization of Black and Brown people."