The Guild, a co-living organization that focuses on social entrepreneurs and change makers, is opening a new mixed use space in downtown Atlanta. In the heart of the historic Sweet Auburn district, a neighborhood which played home to some of Atlanta’s most important civil rights moments, will be a building for apartment rental, entrepreneurship programming, and community collaboration.
“This neighborhood has a history of change-making,” says Nikishka Iyengar, founder and CEO of The Guild. “Our goal is to be part of strengthening the ecosystem of the neighborhood.”
The Guild opened its first location in 2016 in East Lake Commons. Co-living, the practice of packaging communal housing with amenities and community, is growing increasingly common in large cities, particularly with early-stage entrepreneurs.
The Guild intends to capitalize on that trend, maintaining their first house while opening up room for more social entrepreneurs to gain access to programming and amenities in the new space. They’ll continue to look for opportunities to grow their footprint across Atlanta.
The Sweet Auburn building, named Awethu House after an anti-apartheid rallying cry that translates to “Power to the People”, will have seven rooms. Two of the rooms will be dedicated to moderate-income members at a slightly lower cost than market rent, while two will be rented out on airbnb. Visiting guest speakers and impact investors can also stay in those open rooms.
All members will have access to a common area, which is where programming will be held on a weekly basis. That can range from guest lectures, to classes on financial planning and business-building, to mindful meditation and yoga.
The Guild will partner for some of its programming with non-profit Remerge, which will also occupy the first floor of the building. Remerge offers community development programs such as women’s empowerment classes for homeless and low-income women and social justice trainings.
Iyengar hopes to partner with other organizations in the community as well. She explains that they’re being very intentional about which developers they partner with, only working with those that are committed to developing affordable, inclusive, and resilient neighborhoods.
“The goal for us is to create spaces that look good, programming that’s beneficial, but we’re different from other co-living spaces throughout the country in that we also want to create spaces where the community it’s in can thrive with us,” she says.
“MLK had meetings on Auburn, this neighborhood was a meeting place for so many civil rights leaders. We want to balance all the new energy while not disenfranchising the individuals that have been here the whole time.”
The first floor of the building will also host a small co-working space, as well as the second location of the Atlanta Breakfast Club diner.
Iyengar says the building is slated to be ready for move-in by mid-May. Membership at The Guild includes rent, amenities, and access to all programming. Potential members can apply here.
Photos by Jason Seagle
An earlier version of this story stated that The Guild was the first co-living organization in Atlanta. This has been updated to reflect another such organization that pre-dated The Guild.