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WonderRoot to Move and Expand


By Shawn O’Neill
WonderRoot, an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and the community to inspire positive social change, has reached an agreement with the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to repurpose the former Tech High Charter School building at 1043 Memorial Drive. It will be renovated for use by artists, performers, students, teachers, families, and the community.
Founded in 2004, WonderRoot supports artists to have working careers in Atlanta and utilizes art programs as a form of addressing community challenges. The organization has outgrown its current space in Reynoldstown, and the move to the former Tech High property allows the East Atlanta community to retain a much-needed arts center and community catalyst for positive growth. East Atlanta at one time extended north on Flat Shoals into what is today Reynoldstown. The old school had its beginnings as the Faith School and was the teacher training school for Atlanta serving families from south of I-20 in those days. When Atlanta Public Schools were integrated, the name of the school was changed to Hubert Elementary. That school closed, and after several years as a surplus building, it became the Tech High Charter School until that school closed as well.
Under a 20-year agreement with APS, the 54,000-square-foot space will allow WonderRoot to expand its current resources with a larger Open Access Studio Program, gallery, performance spaces, dance studio, education space to supplement school programs, and offices as well as a restaurant and community event space. The new campus will not only better reflect WonderRoot’s mission and identity, but also provide a business opportunity in leasing studio and office space, securing the non-profit a firm financial future. Currently, more than 40 percent of the studios, which are rented at $1.50 per square foot, have been pre-leased by a variety of working artists and organizations. Artists, nonprofits, and creative businesses can apply for studio rentals at www.wonderroot.org/studio-application.
The development, which is set to begin later in the year, is a wonderful example of a creative use of neglected space for economic and community development, promotion of the arts, and support of artists. The newly-named WonderRoot Center for Arts & Social Change is a creative place-making initiative that will help to catalyze further activity in the Memorial Avenue corridor. Just two blocks from the Atlanta BeltLine, the WonderRoot Center will be an asset to the stakeholders of the greater east Atlanta communities, while attracting national attention for Atlanta’s thriving arts industry. For more information, explore www.wonderroot.org.
WonderRoot, founded in 2004, is an Atlanta-based non-profit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and the community to inspire positive social change. By supporting artists to have working careers in Atlanta and addressing social, youth development, health, and environmental issues through the arts, WonderRoot helps make Atlanta a better place for all.

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