Last comment, just because it's a trip down memory lane. Mr. Patton says, "THAT'S where people should have been digging their heels in...or possibly in being proactive in preventing not one, but TWO storage facilities from being built on prime parcels in the corridor in the last year."
Actually, we tried really, really hard within what we were allowed (review and comment for a BL SAP). Unfortunately, storage facilities were a permitted use back then, so there was no vote possible, just comments. Luckily, we are in the process of proactively rezoning along the corridor.
Here's the letter for the one on Edgewood:
President, Fourth Ward Neighbors, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30312
19 March 2012
Charletta Wilson Jacks
Office of Planning
Dear Ms. Jacks,
On behalf of Fourth Ward Neighbors, Inc. - the duly recognized neighborhood organization covering the affected area and member organization of NPU-M – and with the support of the undersigned community organizations, I am submitting the following comments for consideration regarding the Special Administrative Permit BL-12-007, 660-666 Edgewood Ave.
We strongly support a denial of the Special Administrative Permit as the proposed redevelopment does not “[satisfy] the public purposes and intent, [nor] provides public protection to an equivalent or greater degree.” Specifically, the redevelopment does not:
“Create new mixed use and commercial nodes at BeltLine station areas that are pedestrian and transit-oriented;”
“Create a diversified urban environment where people can live, work, shop, meet and play;”
“Promote public health and safety by providing a pedestrian-oriented environment that includes active street-level uses, sufficient sidewalk widths, and primary pedestrian access from sidewalks to adjacent building entrances;”
“Improve the aesthetics of street and built environments.”
The current proposal calls for approximately 75,000 square feet of development, with only 800 square feet of active use. The inactive use, the storage facility, almost by definition requires an auto-centric clientèle. The active use is positioned along a side street with no possibility of further development, leaving that use isolated and alone. No sidewalk exists on Airline, and none is proposed in this application. The development does not increase engagement with either the BeltLine or Edgewood Avenue – the major corridor which we hope the BeltLine will transform. In all these regards, the proposal fails to achieve the public purposes and intents of the BeltLine Overlay.
However, we do recognize the right of the owners to operate a storage facility under current zoning regulations. We are amenable to support of the project with following amendments to their proposal:
Increase the amount of active use beyond the currently proposed 800 square feet
Relocate the active use to engage Edgewood Avenue and the BeltLine rather than Airline; move the facility office to Airline
Increase the amount of fenestration fronting the BeltLine and Airline to combat the sense of an inactive, sealed, brick structure
Increase the amount of fenestration on the north front to improve the aesthetics of the built environment for residents in Studioplex and adjacent streets in the Old Fourth Ward
Acceptable exterior building materials shall include brick; terracotta; stone; cast stone, metal; masonry with the appearance of brick, terracotta, or stone; cementitious siding in panels, poured in place concrete, pre-cast concrete; smooth, true coat, or hard-coat stucco, and glass. The following exterior building materials shall be prohibited: vinyl siding and exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS).
The building shall have both internally and externally mounted security cameras which shall be in constant operation. To enhance public safety in the project vicinity, the developer shall use good faith efforts to coordinate in an ongoing manner with the Atlanta Police Department and/or the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District on the real-time monitoring of the external security cameras and/or the use of recordings made from such cameras.
The project signage shall make reference to the project by street name (e.g., “Edgewood Self-Storage”), by the name of the neighborhood in which the project is located (e.g., “Old Fourth Ward Self-Storage”), or by some other location neutral reference.
Areas on the building facing Edgewood Avenue shall be brick, masonry resembling brick, or metal siding similar to that as used in Tribute Lofts.
The BeltLine has the potential for transformative effects throughout the city, and particularly at the Edgewood Avenue node, connecting BeltLine users with the communities of Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Old Fourth Ward. Through proper redevelopment, the structure at 660-666 Edgewood Avenue can facilitate this transformation through an increased engagement with the street through active use, or hinder it through an auto-centric, disengaged, blank facility. For these reasons, we strongly ask for your rejection of their application as it exists and the future inclusion of our amendments.
President, Fourth Ward Neighbors, Inc.
President, Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association
President, Inman Park Neighborhood Association
President, Fourth Ward Alliance
President, Fourth & SAND
Director of Design, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
Executive Director, Historic District Development Corporation
A parking lot here. A parking lot there. One in O4W, one in Kirkwood, one in Midtown.
I love Atlanta. I hope to grow old and, yes, die here. But I fear in 20 years we will all wake up and say, "Why isn't anything different? Why didn't the BeltLine or the Streetcar live up to its promise?" never pausing to think that over the course of hundreds of justifications for building the way we always did, no wonder things didn't change.
This has nothing to do with black or white. It's not churches. It's a choice.
The choice to build a better city than the one we have now.
And I've heard all the excuses. "Atlanta's built for cars. We have no transit. So we have to build for cars. Later, when that's in place, we'll build better."
Yes. And I'll quit eating so much candy AFTER I lose weight.
It took Atlanta years to destroy what once was a walkable, urban city. It didn't happen overnight. And neither will the change.
And yes, we will all have to learn to walk a few blocks. Sometimes we won't be able to park directly in front of where we want to go. Sometimes we might even have to pay for parking. It won't be free everywhere. We may have to carpool. Or ride transit. That's you, me, churchgoers and bargoers. Make no mistake, we'll still have parking. No one's saying that will disappear or that it should. But there will be less of it.
The incredible thing is, when it works, when cities become healthy and vibrant, you don't mind any of that. You walk because it's what people do and because the area around you is walkable.
That doesn't happen when we build parking lots. That's the reason why parking lots are so restricted now in Atlanta. We're trying to make it (I think) better. But that happens by a series of choices, not a series of justifications for why this one lot is ok to park on and so's that one, because I promise promise promise some day we'll change.
@Grant Park I think that some of the misunderstanding comes from a misunderstanding of the processs. Bar applications, unless they are seeking a variance for some item (for example, parking (not required in the MLK District)) aren't a land use issue. That is, bars/restaurants are a permitted use in the area. The city evaluates whether to grant a liquor license to a person (the agent) and this essentially boils down to whether or not the person has a criminal record or not. And, in fact, the neighborhoods have tried to say no to bars b/c of sound concerns and impact, but to no avail. Also, I hope you are aware that all the bars west of Boulevard are actually in a separate neighborhood, same NPU.
A surface parking lot IS specifically prohibited in the area being requested. It is actually prohibited, which is why not only is a rezoning is necessary but an amendment to the city's Comprehensive Development Plan. Surface parking lots are prohibited there because they do "corrupt the landscape", regardless of who owns them. The no to new surface parking lots has been in place in the Old Fourth Ward since 2008 (the Master Plan David Patton helped write and which links have been placed above) and in the city's plan since 2011. Both written with massive public input. Surface parking lots have not been allowed in residential areas (like Daniel Street) for years.
As much as it may seem nice to make exceptions to zoning rules because the applicant is a good neighbor (i.e. Lourdes) that is not only a bad way to do planning and zoning (We like Bob but don't like Ted!), it's actually illegal. It's called spot zoning.
While I am obviously extremely vested in the parking lot (unashamedly supporting the Master Plan, BeltLine SubArea 5 Master Plan, and the consistent voting of Fourth Ward Neighbors), I think the most disturbing thing in this article is what Kwanza says at the end:
"If people want to make it different, make an offer and pay the price," Hall says.
Let's be very clear here.
Parking is not allowed under the current zoning. It's zoned R-5 and C-2-C (very old plan). The Master Plan calls for residential and mixed use, as does the Comprehensive Development Plan.
The Old Fourth Ward Master Plan calls for residential and mixed use on those spots and specifically criticizes single use surface parking lots: "One of the most significant intrusions into the urban fabric of the Old Fourth Ward is the plethora of parking lots and decks found in the neighborhood" and calls "excess off-street parking [...] one of the greatest challenges to urbanism"
The Comprehensive Development Plan says "Given that Atlanta currently has an over-supply of parking, the City should remove surfaceparking as a permitted use." and "Encourage the redevelopment of surface parking lots into higher-density, mixed-use developments , with shared parking amongst the different uses"
The neighborhood association and NPU have voted 4 times rejecting 6 different motions of rezoning and comprehensive development plan amendments. Every single neighborhood and NPU vote has rejected this parking lot.
Kwanza's response? "If people want to make it different, make an offer and pay the price."
If you don't want the parking lot, pony up a million dollars and stop it. Zoning? Doesn't matter. Master Plan? Nope. Neighborhood vote? Who cares. Want a voice in a lot, only purchase matters. Money talks. Everything else is irrelevant. Buy the land or shut up.
I hope that's not what he's saying, but for all of us, from my neighborhood and Castleberry Hill and Downtown fighting parking lots to Candler Park that just spent a significant amount of money on a Master Plan... we need to know where Kwanza Hall stands.
Because from where I'm sitting, the neighborhood vote, the Master Plan, and zoning don't seem to mean anything. Just if you have the $ to buy the land.
@Forgotten Neighbors... none of the Master Plan has been forgotten by the neighbors, the neighborhood association, and the NPU... all of whom have voted consistently to reject this plan.
Kwanza may have forgotten it. Oh wait, "As a result of my convening the Old Fourth Ward community for a master planning process in 2007-2008, the Old Fourth Ward is booming."
Yeah, he said that in March. (http://www.kwanzahall.com/why_i_voted_no_o…).
It's amazing to me how people like Choo Choo Train can completely quote out of context.
Read the whole paragraph: "In a perfect world, fans would walk, bike, and ride MARTA to the stadium and parking would not be necessary. Kyle James, one of the students in the planning studio, says the class understands that's not the case. Parking will play a role in the new stadium. But he and other students argue that it could be designed in such a way that, on non-game days, it is not an obstacle or eyesore."
That's what we're talking about here. No one is saying no parking. No one is saying no tailgating.
What many of us are trying to say is that:
1) We know parking lots have a detrimental impact on areas. It's been shown. Time and time again.
2) We're using public funds to build the stadium
3) Let's make sure those funds ensure the highest return to the communities impacted and the city as the whole. Not just to create a built environment (sorry, the "real world" of parking is not as natural as gravity. It's a built environment and we have choices how we do it) that only serves the convenience of visitors for the profit of a private organization.
Other cities and stadiums get it right. When you have them in downtown areas (PAC Bell, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Soldier Stadium) the stadium is PART of the city, not a dead zone like our Turner Field. Learn from them. Integrate the stadium into our city that accomodates all users,encourages some behavior over others, and benefits the communities in the city.
As President of Fourth Ward Neighbors, and someone intimately involved in this conversation, I am saddened at times by the level of discourse, but heartened by the passion.
For everyone on both sides - mistakes have been made. We're all human. Conversations have been misunderstood, and plans have been made without full understanding.
Do not let your passion go to waste on a website. Everyone, get involved with your neighborhood association and NPU. It matters.
And everyone, please take comfort in the fact - the fact - that conversations continue and I have faith that a reasonable resolution can be reached.
Please keep the comments civil here.
If you have any questions, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Matthew W Garbett
President, Fourth Ward Neighbors, Inc.
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