As spring shifts to summer, it’s a great opportunity to refresh our understanding of Community Improvement Districts (CID), like the Upper Westside Community Improvement District (UWCID). Today, we’re sharing a comprehensive refresher on these crucial entities, exploring their organizational framework, and how they function to support community development and urban enhancement. 

FIRST THINGS FIRST… let’s talk about what a “CID” even is. If you’re not familiar, that’s okay! We’ve got you covered…and by the end of this blog, you’ll be well-versed in what a CID is and how it really does impact our daily lives in the Upper Westside. 

A Community Improvement District (CID) is a special governmental entity formed by local commercial property owners and legislated by the City of Atlanta. Our friends at say it best: “From bold new infrastructure improvements to traffic mitigation, private security, and the transformation of commercial streets into pedestrian-friendly corridors to the creation of new parks, trails, and greenspace, CIDs are enhancing the urban and suburban landscape.”

Our CID, the Upper Westside Improvement District (UWCID for short) works specifically to enhance the transportation network, connectivity, safety, and experience for all in a 3-square mile area through investment and community partnerships. It was created in 2016 by a group of civic-minded commercial property owners who value smart growth (super thankful for these folks)!

CID’s are funded by commercial and industrial property taxes. These civic-minded property owners agree to pay an additional tax which goes directly to the UWCID to reinvest in infrastructure improvements, public art, and quality-of-life improvements within the district. We leverage the tax revenue through partnerships with other public, private, and philanthropic entities such as the City of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Georgia Department of Transportation to leverage additional infrastructure investment to improve the Upper Westside for all.

Here at the UWCID, we listen to YOU and build projects sourced from our community. Our Masterplan which many of you participated in back in 2020 serves as our roadmap for project implementation.

So that’s all great in theory, but what does it look like in practice? Let’s walk through a real example of one of our initiatives – the Woodall Rail Trail. 

In 2020, during the Upper Westside Masterplan, we heard from the community that trails for walking and biking were a top priority. Before the Masterplan was completed, we got right to it and brought in the trail-building experts at PATH Foundation to vet a series of trails in the Upper Westside for their feasibility. Woodall Rail Trail rose to the top as an important connection between the future BeltLine and the Silver Comet Connector. 

Our staff looked for co-funders to bring the Upper Westside priority to life. We brought on board a solid roster of project partners: Groundwork Atlanta, PATH Foundation, and Trees Atlanta and we applied for a Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Project (GOSP) grant in 2020. After being a few points shy of being selected, we reapplied and in 2022, were awarded a $1.45M GOSP Grant to bring the Woodall Rail Trail to life. 

By 2023, we had the trail plans fully permitted, all the private land needed for the trail’s implementation had been donated to the UWCID, and we put the project out to the construction community to bid on. 

In January 2024, we broke ground on the Woodall Rail Trail, the first segment of the Silver Comet Connector to go under construction. Its completion is anticipated by the end of this year and we can’t wait to invite the community to the ribbon cutting!

And this is only ONE of the many initiatives that are in the works. Click the links below to get up-to-date on other exciting things happening at the UWCID!

  1. Huff Rd Planning + Design Survey

2. Huff Linear Green

3. Woodall Rail Trail + The Spur Trail

3. 2023 Project Recap

So there you have it. A refresher on the impact of our CID’s efforts in the Upper Westside to create a place where people want to live, work, and visit.  We appreciate you for being a civic-minded reader of this newsletter and we hope you’ll continue to provide input on UWCID planning efforts to shape the Upper Westside district!

We invite you to stay connected here as well as on social media to stay updated on all the exciting things happening in the Upper Westside. And if you’ve got questions, we’d love to hear ‘em! Drop us a line via Instagram DM.

The best is yet to come!