Norfolk Southern Awards the Atlanta Botanical Garden $500,000 Gift for Expansion

Staff Report

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been awarded a $500,000 gift from Norfolk Southern Corporation that will help the Midtown attraction expand to the popular Atlanta Beltline and promote a more sustainable environment.

By acquiring and redeveloping commercial property along Piedmont Avenue, the Garden will expand by nearly 8 acres, making it contiguous to one of the nation’s most popular urban revitalization projects and adding a second entrance dedicated to pedestrians and bikers. The expansion also will make the Garden the city’s first cultural institution directly accessible from the 22-mile loop.

“Norfolk Southern is a true visionary corporation that shares the Garden’s commitment to sustainability and a healthy planet,” Garden President & CEO Mary Pat Matheson said. “We are so grateful for its tremendous support of our expansion plans.”

The project is aimed at creating a more walkable, bikeable and sustainable urban environment, with reduced reliance on automobiles as Atlanta’s population continues to grow.

Expansion efforts began in 2018 when the City of Atlanta invested $20.4 million in the acquisition of retail and mixed-use property near Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive, earmarked for future expansion of neighboring Piedmont Park. Since then, the Garden has purchased commercial parcels with private funds for its own future expansion. Ultimately, the dual expansions will create a convergence of three of the city’s most popular greenspaces – the Garden, park and Beltline.

Norfolk Southern’s gift moves the Garden closer to breaking ground on the expansion within the next two years, ultimately expanding the 30-acre site by about 25 percent. Once all necessary land is acquired, the Garden will launch a comprehensive capital campaign for developing the property, with a goal for completion by late 2026.

"As a dedicated Midtown neighbor, Norfolk Southern takes immense pride in nurturing the growth and prosperity of our hometown. We are honored to support the expansion of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, knowing that like our trains, this gift will forge connections and cultivate community bonds,” said Kristin Wong, Norfolk Southern’s Director of Corporate Giving. “This contribution embodies Norfolk Southern’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and thriving environment right here in Atlanta, and through this partnership, we aspire to provide residents and visitors with enhanced access to one of the city's most treasured amenities.” 

In addition to the second entrance, the expansion will include new display gardens, water features, a visitor center, an orangerie, a beer garden/café and exhibit areas. 

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