T.I. Atlanta

Archived: Rapper T.I. Plans to Revitalize Atlanta Neighborhood Where He Grew Up

In a great example of paying it forward, rapper T.I. is rebuilding his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta. Growing up in the area, he said the place he called home was vibrant and full of families. With the onset of drugs and businesses folding from the mid ’90’s to 2012, the neighborhood was devastated beyond belief.

The successful rapper, actor and now philanthropist knew that the community would come back eventually but he was leery of the exclusion native Atlantans would face once the area was rebuilt. Gentrification does that. The savvy entertainer also recognized that in the impoverished area people lived within a food desert. By owning the properties, T.I. wanted to ensure that it would be an affordable place to live. So he took matters into his own hands. Last year, he created and launched his own development company, appropriately named, Buy Back The Block. He has invested almost $3 million of his own money into buying properties in Center Hill, one of which used to be the Kmart where his family shopped, Inc. reported.

“I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in the Center Hill section of Atlanta, just off Bankhead Highway,” he told Inc. “Back then that part of town was considered the lower end of the middle class. There’s no major grocery store chain, there’s no fresh produce, there’s no CVS, there are liquor stores.”

“Green spaces and gardens are incredibly important,” said T.I. “We want a movie theater, bowling, laser tag, stuff I didn’t have. I’m trying to build a community where the people within it can be proud. If they’re proud they’ll have more of a sense of wanting to maintain it.”

T.I.’s goal is commendable and it speaks to a growing number of black celebrities who are making the time and effort to reinvest in their communities again.

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