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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let's talk about the streetcar's potential to change downtown Atlanta

Downtown boosters are asking for input on how streets along 2.5-mile route should develop in future
  • Central Atlanta Progress
  • Downtown boosters are asking for input on how streets along 2.5-mile route should develop in future

While construction on Atlanta's streetcar, the $94 million transit project that's been called everything from a white elephant to downtown's greatest hope, continues, downtown boosters and city officials are preparing for how the 2.5-mile route along Edgewood and Auburn avenues could change the heart of the city.

Last week Central Atlanta Progress and city officials asked residents and business groups to discuss how the project could help Atlanta pull a Portland (PDF) and revitalize nearly 80 acres of property within two blocks of the route. The group is currently reviewing existing redevelopment and master plans to determine whether updates are needed; meeting with nearby property owners, institutions, and businesses to hear their plans and visions; studying zoning regulations in Atlanta and other cities with modern streetcar systems; and working with Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, to formalize a "Toolbox of Incentives" that would be available to developers, among other measures.

The group's seeking public comment (PDF) on what shape the area should take and provided plenty of documents to dissect. First get acquainted with a map of so-called "catalytic sites" - parcels of land along the streetcar route that CAP officials think will, once successfully developed, trigger nearby economic activity and ultimately create a more walkable, vibrant downtown. Fans of pretty sketches and renderings will then want to peruse 3-D proposals of what might one day exist, say, at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jackson Street. (Planners even stuck a cute clone of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum next to Centennial Olympic Park. Knowing Atlanta, the faux structure will probably host the once-seriously-discussed Pirate Museum.)

But wait! you say. It's highly unlikely that anyone's going to start building skyscrapers along Centennial Olympic Park or new mixed-use buildings along Edgewood Avenue, what with the economy in the tank. You are quite correct! Downtown boosters are also considering "short-term" uses for areas along the route, including public art, bike parking, pocket parks, pop-up shops, and yes, food trucks. Feast your eyes on the possibilities by clicking the screenshot below.

Edgewood-Auburn-Short-term-uses.png
  • Central Atlanta Progess

Pore over the documents and send planners your comments (PDF) before May 1.

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