MISSION - To serve as a leader in community development initiatives that build economically sustainable neighborhoods in Mechanicsville and the State of GA.
VISION - To transform Mechanicsville and the State of Georgia by providing housing, economic development, and education to neighborhoods, which will change the perception of community development.
In 1972, The Atlanta Voice Newspaper publisher, J. Lowell Ware, moved his offices into the Mechanicsville area. After 15 years of decline in the population and the closing of many community businesses, Mr. Ware vowed to rebuild the community. The Mechanicsville area, like many communities throughout America in the late 1970’s and `80’s, was nearly crippled as property owners fled the inner cities. Neighborhoods spiraled helplessly downward into a state of economic distress and physical blight.
J. Lowell Ware boldly partnered with a charismatic community activist, Rosa M. Burney, to create a new entity dedicated and committed to restoring the luster and lifestyle that had typically characterized Mechanicsville and its neighboring Summerhill community. In 1989, they co-founded SUMMECH Community Land Trust with the vision of restoring what was once a very healthy and vibrant business and residential community. Mechanicsville is located immediately South of Downtown Atlanta and bound by Interstate I-20 to the North; Interstates I-75/85 to the East and the Southern Railroad to the West and South.
Unfortunately, in July of 1991, both founding members passed within a few months of one another. Janis L. Ware was appointed Executive Director of the organization. Under her leadership and direction, and utilizing her business acumen, a course was chartered to execute her father’s vision.
Then, in 1992, Fleet Finance made a contribution of more than $1.5M to the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium neighborhoods in an effort to offset an injustice of predatory lending practices that were imposed on many residents and citizens in the City of Atlanta, particularly senior citizens. With these funds, an initiative was created to renovate senior owner-occupied homes. Under this initiative, SUMMECH renovated thirty-four (34) homes and laid the foundation for a successful revitalization of the Mechanicsville community.
Efforts to acquire vacant lots and abandoned housing units in Mechanicsville were more successful than the Board of Directors initially anticipated. However, land acquisition proved to be a time consuming task. Trying to locate the heirs of property owners, who long ago moved away from the area, was a tedious process. Some owners agreed to donate the land for a tax write-off. This land would later be used to complete many of the developments within the Mechanicsville community.
SUMMECH, partnering with the Mechanicsville Civic Association (MCA), and both working together with the City of Atlanta, commissioned the Mechanicsville Community Redevelopment Plan. Shortly after the completion of the Redevelopment Plan, SUMMECH applied for and was awarded $5.65 million dollars in EDI/Section108 Funding to implement components included in the redevelopment plan for Mechanicsville.
SUMMECH furthered its goal with the application to, and approval by the City of Atlanta that a section of Mechanicsville be designated as an Enterprise Zone. And, in 1994, Mechanicsville became one of thirteen Atlanta area neighborhoods designated as the Empowerment Zone.