Thursday, January 30, 2014

Downtown groups eye upgrades to Auburn Avenue along Streetcar route

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Proposed concept number one
  • Courtesy Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
  • Proposed concept number one
As the Atlanta Streetcar gears up for its grand opening, Downtown groups are working on additional upgrades to a long-overlooked part of Auburn Avenue.

To help spruce up Sweet Auburn's look and feel, Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District plan to upgrade the historic road's Downtown Connector underpass. For many community residents, the massive overhead concrete slab has remained a major hurdle for pedestrians walking east and west down the street.

Jennifer Ball, ADID's vice president of planning and economic development, tells CL the underpass enhancements will improve an area that's close to a forthcoming streetcar stop. With $476,000 in public and private funding, she says those aesthetic concerns will be addressed to make the Auburn Avenue more "active, vibrant, and engaging."

"We kept hearing that overpass is a disaster." Ball says. "From end to end, [the underpass] is 259 feet. When it's dark, it leads to a unsafe feeling or that there aren't eyes on the street. Highway is very challenging. [There's Auburn Avenue] locations with all these amenities. But there's not an adjacent use."

Proposed concept number two
  • Courtesy Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
  • Proposed concept number two
ADID and CAP have offered up three different beautification concepts - included in this post - and have asked for public input on the proposed Auburn Avenue underpass designs. For all three ideas, Ball says project designers followed suggestions made during a 2013 public meeting to incorporate the community's unique history.

"It's a one of a kind place," she says. "It's a place where Dr. King grew up and left his influence. They want to see something that celebrated and helped tell the story of the neighborhood's unique history of culture."

Proposed concept number three
  • Courtesy Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
  • Proposed concept number three
ADID and CAP will look at making similar fixes to the Edgewood Avenue underpass one block south once the Auburn Avenue underpass improvements are finished in late 2014. Between both underpasses, Ball says the upgrades could make the entire neighborhood more walkable to the more than 700,000 people who visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site each year.

Public input can be submitted to until the end of tomorrow. Starting next week, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission will review the top choice before another round of public debate occurs.

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